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m 


THE 


SKETCH     BOOK 


OF 


GEOFFREY    CRAYON,   GENT?. 


"  I  have  no  wife,  nor  children,  good  or  bad,  to  provide  for.  A  mere 
spectator  of  other  men's  fortunes  and  adventures,  and  how  they  play 
their  parts,  which,  methinks,  are  diversely  presented  unto  me,  as  from  a 
common  theatre  or  scene."  —  BURTON. 


Eefriseti  lEtoitfon. 


NEW  YORK :  46  EAST  14TH  STREET. 

THOMAS    Y.     CROWELL    &    CO. 

BOSTON":  100  PURCHASE  STREET. 


THE   SKETCH-BOOK. 


CONTENTS. 


PAGE 

PREFACE  TO  THE  REVISED  EDITION , v 

ADVERTISEMENTS  TO  THE  FIRST  AMERICAN  AND  ENGLISH  EDITIONS  .    .    .  xi 

THE  AUTHOR'S  ACCOUNT  OF  HIMSELF 5 

THE  VOYAGE 9 

ROSCOE 14 

THE  WIFE 20 

Rip  VAN  WINKLE 27 

ENGLISH  WRITERS  ON  AMERICA 41 

RURAL  LIFE  IN  ENGLAND 49 

THE  BROKEN  HEART 55 

THE  ART  OF  BOOK-MAKING 59 

A  ROYAL  POET 65 

THE  COUNTRY  CHURCH 77 

THE  WIDOW  AND  HER  SON 81 

THE  BOAR'S  HEAD  TAVERN,  EASTCHEAP 87 

THE  MUTABILITY  OF  LITERATURE 96 

RURAL  FUNERALS 105 

THE  INN  KITCHEN 115 

THE  SPECTRE  BRIDEGROOM 117 

WESTMINSTER  ABBEY • 130 

CHRISTMAS 139 

THE  STAGE-COACH 144 

CHRISTMAS  EVE 149 

CHRISTMAS  DAY 159 

THE  CHRISTMAS  DINNER    . 170 

LITTLE  BRITAIN 182 

STRATFORD-ON-AVON 194 

TRAITS  OF  INDIAN  CHARACTER 210 

PHILIP  OF  POKANOKET 219 

JOHN  BULL 233 

THE  PRIDE  OF  THE  VILLAGE 242 

THE  ANGLER 250 

THE  LEGEND  OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW 258 

L'ENVOY 285 

A  SUNDAY  IN  LONDON 287 

LONDON  ANTIQUES 289 

APPENDIX 295 

iii 


PREFACE  TO  THE  REVISED  EDITION. 


THE  following  papers,  with  two  exceptions,  were  written  in 
England,  and  formed  but  part  of  an  intended  series  for  which 
I  had  made  notes  and  memorandums.  Before  I  could  mature 
a  plan,  however,  circumstances  compelled  me  to  send  them 
piecemeal  to  the  United  States,  where  they  were  published 
from  time  to  time  in  portions  or  numbers.  It  was  not  my  in- 
tention to  publish  them  in  England,  being  conscious  that 
much  of  their  contents  could  be  interesting  only  to  American 
readers,  and,  in  truth,  being  deterred  by  the  severity  with 
which  American  productions  had  been  treated  by  the  British 
press. 

By  the  time  the  contents  of  the  first  volume  had  appeared 
in  this  occasional  manner,  they  began  to  find  their  way  across 
the  Atlantic,  and  to  be  inserted,  with  many  kind  encomiums,  in 
the  London  Literary  Gazette.  It  was  said,  also,  that  a  London 
bookseller  intended  to  publish  them  in  a  collective  form.  I 
determined,  therefore,  to  bring  them  forward  myself,  that  they 
might  at  least  have  the  benefit  of  my  superintendence  and 
revision.  I  accordingly  took  the  printed  numbers  which  I 
had  received  from  the  United  States,  to  Mr.  John  Murray, 
the  eminent  publisher,  from  whom  I  had  already  received 
friendly  attentions,  and  left  them  with  him  for  examination, 
informing  him  that  should  he  be  inclined  to  bring  them  before 
the  public,  I  had  materials  enough  on  hand  for  a  second  vol- 
ume. Several  days  having  elapsed  without  any  communica- 
tion from  Mr.  Murray,  I  addressed  a  note  to  him  in  which  I 
construed  his  silence  into  a  tacit  rejection  of  my  work,  and 
begged  that  the  numbers  I  had  left  with  him  might  be  returned 
to  me.  The  following  was  his  reply : 

MY  DEAR  SIR  :  I  entreat  you  to  believe  that  I  feel  truly 
obliged  by  your  kind  intentions  towards  me,  and  that  I  enter- 
tain the  most  unfeigned  respect  for  your  most  tasteful  talents. 
My  house  is  completely  filled  with  work-people  at  this  time, 
and  I  have  only  an  office  to  transact  business  in ;  and  yester- 


yi  PREFACE   TO   THE  EEVISED  EDITION. 

day  I  was  wholly  occupied,  or  I  should  have  done  myself  the 
pleasure  of  seeing  you. 

If  it  would  not  suit  me  to  engage  in  the  publication  of  your 
present  work,  it  is  only  because  I  do  not  see  that  scope  in  the 
nature  of  it  which  would  enable  me  to  make  those  satisfactory 
accounts  between  us,  without  which  I  really  feel  no  satisfaction 
in  engaging  —  but  I  will  do  all  I  can  to  promote  their  circu- 
lation, and  shall  be  most  ready  to  attend  to  any  future,  plan 
of  yours. 

With  much  regard,  I  remain,  dear  sir, 

Your  faithful  servant, 

JOHN  MURRAY. 

This  was  disheartening,  and  might  have  deterred  me  from 
any  further  prosecution  of  the  matter,  had  the  question  of 
republication  in  Great  Britain  rested  entirely  with  me  ;  but 
I  apprehended  the  appearance  of  a  spurious  edition.  I  now 
thought  of  Mr.  Archibald  Constable  as  publisher,  having  been 
treated  by  him  with  much  hospitality  during  a  visit  to  Edin- 
burgh ;  but  first  I  determined  to  submit  my  work  to  Sir 
Walter  (then  Mr.)  Scott,  being  encouraged  to  do  so  by  the 
cordial  reception  I  had  experienced  from  him  at  Abbotsford 
a  few  years  previously,  and  by  the  favorable  opinion  he  had 
expressed  to  others  of  my  earlier  writings.  I  accordingly 
sent  him  the  printed  numbers  of  the  Sketch  Book  in  a  parcel 
by  coach,  and  at  the  same  time  wrote  to  him,  hinting  that 
since  I  had  had  the  pleasure  of  partaking  of  his  hospitality,  a 
reverse  had  taken  place  in  my  affairs  which  made  the  success- 
ful exercise  of  my  pen  all-important  to  me  ;  I  begged  him, 
therefore,  to  look  over  the  literary  articles  I  had  forwarded 
to  him,  and,  if  he  thought  they  would  bear  European  republi- 
cation, to  ascertain  whether  Mr.  Constable  would  be  inclined 
to  be  the  publisher. 

The  parcel  containing  my  work  went  by  coach  to  Scott's 
address  in  Edinburgh ;  the  letter  went  by  mail  to  his  resi- 
dence in  the  country.  By  the  very  first  post  I  received  a 
reply,  before  he  had  seen  my  work. 

"  I  was  down  at  Kelso,"  said  he,  "  when  your  letter  reached 
Abbotsford.  I  am  now  on  my  way  to  town,  and  will  con- 
verse with  Constable,  and  do  all  in  my  power  to  forward  your 
views  —  I  assure  you  nothing  will  give  me  more  pleasure." 

The  hint,  however,  about  a  reverse  of  fortune  had  struck 
the  quick  apprehension  of  Scott,  and,  with  that  practical  and 
efficient  good  will  which  belonged  to  his  nature,  he  had  already 


PREFACE   TO   THE  REVISED  EDITION.  vii 

devised  a  way  of  aiding  me.  A  weekly  periodical,  he  went  on 
to  inform  me,  was  about  to  be  set  up  in  Edinburgh,  supported 
by  the  most  respectable  talents,  and  amply  furnished  with  all 
the  necessary  information.  The  appointment  of  the  editor, 
for  which  ample  funds  were  provided,  would  be  five  hundred 
pounds  sterling  a  year,  with  the  reasonable  prospect  of  further 
advantages.  This  situation,  being  apparently  at  his  disposal, 
he  frankly  offered  to  me.  The  work,  however,  he  intimated, 
was  to  have  somewhat  of  a  political  bearing,  and  he  expressed 
an  apprehension  that  the  tone  it  was  desired  to  adopt  might 
not  suit  me.  "  Yet  I  risk  the  question,"  added  he,  "  because  I 
know  no  man  so  well  qualified  for  this  important  task,  and 
perhaps  because  it  will  necessarily  bring  you  to  Edinburgh. 
If  my  proposal  does  not  suit,  you  need  only  keep  the  matter 
secret  and  there  is  no  harm  done.  '  And  for  my  love  I  pray 
you  wrong  me  not.'  If  on  the  contrary  you  think  it  could  be 
made  to  suit  you,  let  me  know  as  soon  as  possible,  addressing 
Castle  street,  Edinburgh." 

In  a  postscript,  written  from  Edinburgh,  he  adds,  "  I  am 
just  come  here,  and  have  glanced  over  the  Sketch  Book.  •  It 
is  positively  beautiful,  and  increases  my  desire  to  crimp  you, 
if  it  be  possible.  Some  difficulties  there  always  are  in  man- 
aging such  a  matter,  especially  at  the  outset ;  but  we  will 
obviate  them  as  much  as  we  possibly  can." 

The  following  is  from  an  imperfect  draught  of  my  reply, 
which  underwent  some  modifications  in  the  copy  sent : 

"  I  cannot  express  how  much  I  am  gratified  by  your  letter. 
I  had  begun  to  feel  as  if  I  had  taken  an  unwarrantable  liberty ; 
but,  somehow  or  other,  there  is  a  genial  sunshine  about  you 
that  warms  every  creeping  thing  into  heart  and  confidence. 
Your  literary  proposal  both  surprises  and  flatters  me,  as 
it  evinces  a  much  higher  opinion  of  my  talents  than  I  have 
myself." 

I  then  went  on  to  explain  that  I  found  myself  peculiarly 
unfitted  for  the  situation  offered  to  me,  not  merely  by  my 
political  opinions,  but  by  the  very  constitution  and  habits  of 
my  mind.  "  My  whole  course  of  life,"  I  observed,  "  has  been 
desultory,  and  I  am  unfitted  for  any  periodically  recurring 
task,  or  any  stipulated  labor  of  body  or  mind.  I  have  no  com- 
mand of  my  talents,  such  as  they  are,  and  have  to  watch  the 
varyings  of  my  mind  as  I  would  those  of  a  weathercock. 
Practice  and  training  may  bring  me  more  into  rule ;  but  at 
present  I  am  as  useless  for  regular  service  as  one  of  my  own 
country  Indians  or  a  Don  Cossack, 


yiii  PEE  FACE   TO   THE  REVISED  EDITION. 

"  I  must,  therefore,  keep  on  pretty  much  as  I  have  begun-, 
writing  when  I  can,  not  when  I  would.  I  shall  occasionally 
shift  my  residence  and  write  whatever  is  suggested  by  objects 
before  me,  or  whatever  rises  in  my  imagination  ;  and  hope  to 
write  better  and  more  copiously  by  and  by. 

« I  am  playing  the  egotist,  but  I  know  no  better  way  oi 
answering  your  proposal  than  by  showing  what  a  very  good- 
for-nothing  kind  of  being  I  am.  Should  Mr.  Constable  feel 
inclined  to  make  a  bargain  for  the  wares  I  have  on  hand,  he 
will  encourage  me  to  further  enterprise  ;  and  it  will  be  some- 
thing like  trading  with  a  gypsy  for  the  fruits  of  his  prowlmgs, 
who  may  at  one  time  have  nothing  but  a  wooden  bowl  to  offer, 
and  at  another  time  a  silver  tankard." 

In'  reply,  Scott  expressed  regret,  but  not  surprise,  at  my 
declining  what  might  have  proved  a  troublesome  duty.  He 
then  recurred  to  the  original  subject  of  our  correspondence  ; 
entered  into  a  detail  of  the  various  terms  upon  which  arrange- 
ments were  made  between  authors  and  booksellers,  that  I 
might  take  my  choice ;  expressing  the  most  encouraging  con- 
fidence of  the  success  of  my  work,  and  of  previous  works 
which  I  had  produced  in  America.  "  I  did  no  more,"  added 
he,  "  than  open  the  trenches  with  Constable  ;  but  I  am  sure 
if  you  will  take  the  trouble  to  write  to  him,  you  will  find  him 
disposed  to  treat  your  overtures  with  every  degree  of  atten- 
tion. Or,  if  you  think  it  of  consequence  in  the  first  place  to 
see  me,  I  shall  be  in  London  in  the  course  of  a  month,  and 
whatever  my  experience  can  command  is  most  heartily  at 
your  command.  But  I  can  add  little  to  what  I  have  said 
above,  except  my  earnest  recommendation  to  Constable  to 
enter  into  the  negotiation."  l 


1  I  cannot  avoid  subjoining  in  a  note  a  succeeding  paragraph  of  Scott's 
letter,  which,  though  it  does  not  relate  to  the  main  subject  of  our  corre- 
spondence, was  too  characteristic  to  be  omitted.  Some  time  previously 
I  had  sent  Miss  Sophia  Scott  small  duodecimo  American  editions  of  her 
father's  poems  published  in  Edinburgh  in  quarto  volumes;  showing  the 
;'  nigromancy  "  of  the  American  press,  by  which  a  quart  of  wine  is  con- 
jured into  a  pint  bottle.  Scott  observes  :  "  In  my  hurry,  I  have  not 
thanked  you  in  Sophia's  name  for  the  kind  attention  which  furnished  her 
with  the  American  volumes.  I  am  not  quite  sure  I  can  add  my  own, 
since  you  have  made  her  acquainted  with  much  more  of  papa's  folly  than 
she  would  ever  otherwise  have  learned ;  for  I  had  taken  special  care  they 
should  never  see  any  of  those  things  during  their  earlier  years.  I  think 
I  told  you  that  Walter  is  sweeping  the  firmament  with  a  feather  like  a 
maypole  and  indenting  the  pavement  with  a  sword  like  a  scythe  —  in 
other  words,  he  has  become  a  whiskered  hussar  in  the  18th  Dragoons." 


PREFACE   TO    THE  REVISED  EDITION.  ix 

Before  the  receipt  of  this  most  obliging  letter,  however,  I 
had  determined  to  look  to  no  leading  bookseller  for  a  launch, 
but  to  throw  my  work  before  the  public  at  my  own  risk,  and 
let  it  sink  or  swim  according  to  its  merits.  I  wrote  to  that 
effect  to  Scott,  arid  soon  received  a  reply : 

"  I  observe  with  pleasure  that  you  are  going  to  come  forth 
in  Britain.  It  is  certainly  not  the  very  best  way  to  publish 
on  one's  own  accompt;  for  the  booksellers  set  their  face 
against  the  circulation  of  such  works  as  do  not  pay  an  amaz- 
ing toll  to  themselves.  But  they  have  lost  the  art  of  alto- 
gether damming  up  the  road  in  such  cases  between  the  author 
and  the  public,  which  they  were  once  able  to  do  as  effectually 
as  Diabolus  in  John  Bunyan's  Holy  War  closed  up  the  win- 
dows of  my  Lord  Understanding's  mansion.  I  am  sure  of 
one  thing,  that  you  have  only  to  be  known  to  the  British  pub- 
lic to  be  admired  by  them,  and  I  would  not  say  so  unless  I 
really  was  of  that  opinion. 

"  If  you  ever  see  a  witty  but  rather  local  publication  called 
Blackwood's  Edinburgh  Magazine,  you  will  find  some  notice 
of  your  works  in  the  last  number :  the  author  is  a  friend  of 
mine,  to  whom  I  have  introduced  you  in  your  literary  capacity. 
His  name  is  Lockhart,  a  young  man  of  very  considerable  talent, 
and  who  will  soon  be  intimately  connected  with  my  family. 
My  faithful  friend  Knickerbocker  is  to  be  next  examined  and 
illustrated.  Constable  was  extremely  willing  to  enter  into 
consideration  of  a  treaty  for  your  works,  but  I  foresee  will  be 
still  more  so  when 

Your  name  is  up,  and  may  go 
From  Toledo  to  Madrid. 

And  that  will  soon  be  the  case.  I  trust  to  be  in 

London  about  the  middle  of  the  month,  and  promise  myself 
great  pleasure  in  once  again  shaking  you  by  the  hand." 

The  first  volume  of  the  Sketch  Book  was  put  to  press  in 
London,  as  I  had  resolved,  at  my  own  risk,  by  a  bookseller 
unknown  to  fame,  and  without  any  of  the  usual  arts  by  which 
a  work  is  trumpeted  into  notice.  Still  some  attention  had 
been  called  to  it  by  the  extracts  which  had  previously  appeared 
in  the  Literary  Gazette,  and  by  the  kind  word  spoken  by  the 
editor  of  that  periodical,  and  it  was  getting  into  fair  circu- 
lation, when  my  worthy  bookseller  failed  before  the  first 
month  was  over,  and  the  sale  was  interrupted. 

At  this  juncture  Scott  arrived  in  London.  I  called  to  him 
for  help,  as  I  was  sticking  in  the  mire,  and,  more  propitious 


X  PREFACE    TO   THE  REVISED  EDITION. 

than  Hercules,  he  put  his  own  shoulder  to  the  wheel.  Through 
his  favorable  representations,  Murray  was  quickly  induced  to 
undertake  the  future  publication  of  the  work  which  he  had 
previously  declined.  A  further  edition  of  the  first  volume 
was  struck  off  and  the  second  volume  was  put  to  press,  and 
from  that  time  Murray  became  my  publisher,  conducting  him- 
self in  all  his  dealings  with  that  fair,  open,  and  liberal  spirit 
which  had  obtained  for  him  the  well-merited  appellation  of 
the  Prince  of  Booksellers. 

Thus,  under  the  kind  and  cordial  auspices  of  Sir  Walter 
Scott,  I  began  my  literary  career  in  Europe  ;  and  I  feel  that 
I  am  but  discharging,  in  a  trifling  degree,  my  debt  of  gratitude 
to  the  memory  of  that  golden-hearted  man  in  acknowledging 
my  obligations  to  him.  But  who  of  his  literary  contempo- 
raries ever  applied  to  him  for  aid  or  counsel  that  did  not  ex- 
perience the  most  prompt,  generous,  and  effectual  assistance  ? 

W.  I. 

SUNNYSIDE,  1848. 


ADVERTISEMENT  TO  THE  FIRST  AMERICAN  EDITION, 

THE  following  writings  are  published  on  experiment ;  should 
they  please,  they  may  be  followed  by  others.  The  writer  will 
have  to  contend  with  some  disadvantages,  He  is  unsettled  in 
his  abode,  subject  to  interruptions,  and  has  his  share  of  cares 
and  vicissitudes.  He  cannot,  therefore,  promise  a  regular  plan, 
nor  regular  periods  of  publication.  Should  he  be  encouraged 
to  proceed,  much  time  may  elapse  between  the  appearance  of 
his  numbers ;  and  their  size  will  depend  on  the  materials  he 
may  have  on  hand.  His  writings  will  partake  of  the  fluctua- 
tions of  his  own  thoughts  and  feelings ;  sometimes  treating  of 
scenes  before  him,  sometimes  of  others  purely  imaginary,  and 
sometimes  wandering  back  with  his  recollections  to  his  native 
country.  He  will  not  be  able  to  give  them  that  tranquil  atten- 
tion necessary  to  finished  composition ;  and  as  they  must  be 
transmitted  across  the  Atlantic  for  publication,  he  will  have 
to  trust  to  others  to  correct  the  frequent  errors  of  the  press. 
Should  his  writings,  however,  with  all  their  imperfections,  be 
well  received,  he  cannot  conceal  that  it  would  be  a  source  of  the 
purest  gratification  ;  for  though  he  does  not  aspire  to  those  high 
honors  which  are  the  rewards  of  loftier  intellects  ;  yet  it  is  the 
dearest  wish  of  his  heart  to  have  a  secure  and  cherished,  though 
humble  corner  in  the  good  opinions  and  kind  feelings  of  his 
countrymen. 

London,  1819. 


ADVERTISEMENT  TO  THE  FIRST  ENGLISH  EDITION, 

THE  following  desultory  papers  are  part  of  a  series  written  in 
this  country,  but  published  in  America.  The  author  is  aware 
of  the  austerity  with  which  the  writings  of  his  countrymen  have 
hitherto  been  treated  by  British  critics  ;  he  is  conscious,  too, 
that  much  of  the  contents  of  his  papers  can  be  interesting  only 
in  the  eyes  of  American  readers.  It  was  not  his  intention, 
therefore,  to  have  them  reprinted  in  this  country.  He  has, 
however,  observed  several  of  them  from  time  to  time  inserted 
in  periodical  works  of  merit,  and  has  understood,  that  it  was 
probable  they  would  be  republished  in  a  collective  form.  He 
has  been  induced,  therefore,  to  revise  and  bring  them  forward 
himself,  that  they  may  at  least  come  correctly  before  the  public. 
Should  they  be  deemed  of  sufficient  importance  to  attract  the 
attention  of  critics,  he  solicits  for  them  that  courtesy  and  can- 
dor which  a  stranger  has  some  right  to  claim  who  presents 
himself  at  the  threshold  of  a  hospitable  nation. 

February,  1820, 

xi 


THE  AUTHOR'S  ACCOUNT  OF  HIMSELF. 


I  am  of  this  mind  with  Homer,  that  as  the  snaile  that  crept  out  of  her  shel  was 
turned  eftsoons  into  a  toad,  and  thereby  was  forced  to  make  a  stoole  to  sit  on ;  so  the 
traveller  that  stragleth  from  his  owne  country  is  in  a  short  time  transformed  into  so 
monstrous  a  shape,  that  he  is  faiue  to  alter  his  mansion  with  his  manners,  and  to  live 
where  he  can,  not  where  he  would.  —  Lyly's  Euphues. 

I  WAS  always  fond  of  visiting  new  scenes,  and  observing 
strange  characters  and  manners.  Even  when  a  mere  child  I 
began  my  travels,  and  made  many  tours  of  discovery  into  for- 
eign parts  and  unknown  regions  of  my  native  city,  to  the  fre« 
quent  alarm  of  my  parents,  and  the  emolument  of  the  town 
crier.  As  I  grew  into  boyhood,  I  extended  the  range  of  my 
observations.  My  holiday  afternoons  were  spent  in  rambles 
about  the  surrounding  country.  I  made  myself  familiar  with 
all  its  places  famous  in  history  or  fable.  I  knew  every  spot 
where  a  murder  or  robbery  had  been  committed,  or  a  ghost 
seen.  I  visited  the  neighboring  villages,  and  added  greatly  to 
my  stock  of  knowledge,  by  noting  their  habits  and  customs,  and 
conversing  with  their  sages  and  great  men.  I  even  journeyed 
one  long  summer's  day  to  the  summit  of  the  most  distant  hill, 
whence  I  stretched  my  eye  over  many  a  mile  of  terra  incog- 
nita, and  was  astonished  to  find  how  vast  a  globe  I  inhab- 
ited. 

This  rambling  propensity  strengthened  with  my  years.  Books 
of  voyages  and  travels  became  my  passion,  and  in  devouring 
their  contents,  I  neglected  the  regular  exercises  of  the  school. 
How  wistfully  would  I  wander  about  the  pier  heads  in  fine 
weather,  and  watch  the  parting  ships,  bound  to  distant  climes  — 
with  what  longing  eyes  would  I  gaze  after  their  lessening  sails, 
and  waft  myself  in  imagination  to  the  ends  of  the  earth ! 

Further  reading  and  thinking,  though  they  brought  this  vague 
inclination  into  more  reasonable  bounds,  only  served  to  make 
it  more  decided.  I  visited  various  parts  of  my  own  country ; 
and  had  I  been  merely  a  lover  of  fine  scenery,  I  should  have 


6  THE  AUTHOR'S  ACCOUNT  OF  HIMSELF. 

felt  little  desire  to  seek  elsewhere  its  gratification :  for  on 
no  country  have  the  charms  of  nature  been  more  prodigally 
lavished.  Her  mighty  lakes,  like  oceans  of  liquid  silver ;  her 
mountains,  with  their  bright  aerial  tints  ;  her  valleys,  teeming 
with  wild  fertility  ;  her  tremendous  cataracts,  thundering  in  their 
solitudes ;  her  boundless  plains,  waving  with  spontaneous  ver- 
dure;  her  broad  deep  rivers,  rolling  in  solemn  silence  to  the 
ocean  ;  her  trackless  forests,  where  vegetation  puts  forth  all  its 
magnificence ;  her  skies,  kindling  with  the  magic  of  summer 
clouds  and  glorious  sunshine :  —  no,  never  need  an  American 
look  beyond  his  own  country  for  the  sublime  and  beautiful  of 
natural  scenery. 

But  Europe  held  forth  the  charms  of  storied  and  poetical 
association.  There  were  to  be  seen  the  masterpieces  of  art,  the 
refinements  of  highly  cultivated  society,  the  quaint  peculiarities 
of  ancient  and  local  custom.  My  native  country  was  full  of 
youthful  promise  ;  Europe  was  rich  in  the  accumulated  treasures 
of  age.  Her  very  ruins  told  the  history  of  times  gone  by,  and 
every  mouldering  stone  was  a  chronicle.  I  longed  to  wander 
over  the  scenes  of  renowned  achievement  —  to  tread,  as  it  were, 
in  the  footsteps  of  antiquity  —  to  loiter  about  the  ruined  castle 
—  to  meditate  on  the  falling  tower  —  to  escape,  in  short,  from 
the  commonplace  realities  of  the  present,  and  lose  myself  among 
the  shadowy  grandeurs  of  the  past. 

I  had,  beside  all  this,  an  earnest  desire  to  see  the  great  men 
of  the  earth.  We  have,  it  is  true,  our  great  men  in  America : 
not  a  city  but  has  an  ample  share  of  them.  I  have  mingled 
among  them  in  my  time,  and  been  almost  withered  by  the  shade 
into  which  they  cast  me ;  for  there  is  nothing  so  baleful  to  a 
small  man  as  the  shade  of  a  great  one,  particularly  the  great 
man  of  a  city.  But  I  was  anxious  to  see  the  great  men  of 
Europe ;  for  I  had  read  in  the  works  of  various  philosophers, 
that  all  animals  degenerated  in  America,  and  man  among  the 
number.  A  great  man  of  Europe,  thought  I,  must  therefore  be 
as  superior  to  a  great  man  of  America  as  a  peak  of  the  Alps  to 
a  highland  of  the  Hudson  ;  and  in  this  idea  I  was  confirmed,  by 
observing  the  comparative  importance  and  swelling  magnitude 
of  many  English  travellers  among  us,  who,  I  was  assured,  were 
very  little  people  in  their  own  country.  I  will  visit  this  land  of 
wonders,  thought  I,  and  see  the  gigantic  race  from  which  I  am 
degenerated. 

It  has  been  either  my  good  or  evil  lot  to  have  my  roving 
passion  gratified.  I  have  wandered  through  different  countries, 
and  witnessed  many  of  the  shifting  scenes  of  life.  I  cannot 


THE  AUTHOR'S  ACCOUNT  OF  HIMSELF.  1 

say  that  I  have  studied  them  with  the  eye  of  a  philosopher,  but 
rather  with  the  sauntering  gaze  with  which  humble  lovers  of 
the  picturesque  stroll  from  the  window  of  one  print-shop  to  an- 
other ;  caught  sometimes  by  the  delineations  of  beauty,  some- 
times by  the  distortions  of  caricature,  and  sometimes  by  the 
loveliness  of  landscape.  As  it  is  the  fashion  for  modern  tour- 
ists to  travel  pencil  in  hand,  and  bring  home  their  portfolios 
filled  with  sketches,  I  am  disposed  to  get  up  a  few  for  the  en- 
tertainment of  my  friends.  When,  however,  I  look  over  the 
hints  and  memorandums  I  have  taken  down  for  the  purpose, 
my  heart  almost  fails  me,  at  finding  how  my  idle  humor  has  led 
me  aside  from  the  great  objects  studied  by  every  regular  travel- 
ler who  would  make  a  book.  I  fear  I  shall  give  equal  disap- 
pointment with  an  unlucky  landscape-painter,  who  had  travelled 
on  the  Continent,  but  following  the  bent  of  his  vagrant  inclina- 
tion, had  sketched  in  nooks,  and  corners,  and  by-places.  His 
sketch-book  was  accordingly  crowded  with  cottages,  and  land- 
scapes, and  obscure  ruins ;  but  he  had  neglected  to  paint  St. 
Peter's,  or  the  Coliseum  ;  the  Cascade  of  Terni,  or  the  Bay  of 
Naples ;  and  had  not  a  single  glacier  or  volcano  in  his  whole 
collection . 


THE    SKETCH-BOOK 

OP 

GEOFFREY    CRAYON, 


"  I  have  no  wife  nor  children,  good  or  bad,  to  provide  for.  A  mere  spectator  of  other 
men's  fortunes  and  adventures,  and  how  they  play  their  parts;  which,  methiuks,  are 
diversely  presented  unto  me,  as  from  a  common  theater  or  scene."  —  BURTON, 


THE     VOYAGE. 

Ships,  ships,  I  will  descrie  you 
Amidst  the  main, 

I  will  come  and  try  you, 

What  you  are  protecting, 

And  projecting, 

"What's  your  end  and  aim. 
One  goes  abroad  for  merchandise  and  trading, 
Another  stays  to  keep  his  country  from  invading, 
A  third  is  coming  home  with  rich  and  wealthy  lading, 
Hallo!  my  faucie,  whither  wilt  thou  go?  — OLD  POEM. 

To  an  American  visiting  Europe,  the  long  voyage  he  has  to 
make  is  an  excellent  preparative.  The  temporary  absence  of 
worldly  scenes  and  employments  produces  a  state  of  mind  pe- 
culiarly fitted  to  receive  new  and  vivid  impressions.  The  vast 
space  of  waters  that  separates  the  hemispheres  is  like  a  blank 
page  in  existence.  There  is  no  gradual  transition  by  which,  as 
in  Europe,  the  features  and  population  of  one  country  blend 
almost  imperceptibly  with  those  of  another.  From  the  moment 
you  lose  sight  of  the  land  you  have  left,  all  is  vacancy,  until 
you  step  on  the  opposite  shore,  and  are  launched  at  once  into 
the  bustle  and  novelties  of  another  world. 

In  travelling  by  land  there  is  a  continuity  of  scene,  and  a 
connected  succession  of  persons  and  incidents,  that  carry  on 
the  story  of  life,  and  lessen  the  effect  of  absence  and  sepa- 

9 


10  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

ration.  We  drag,  it  is  true,  "a  lengthening  chain"  at  each 
remove  of  our  pilgrimage;  but  the  chain  is  unbroken;  we 
can  trace  it  back  link  by  link;  and  we  feel  that  the  last 
still  grapples  us  to  home.  But  a  wide  sea  voyage  severs  us 
at  once.  It  makes  us  conscious  of  being  cast  loose  from  the 
secure  anchorage  of  settled  life,  and  sent  adrift  upon  a  doubtful 
world.  It  interposes  a  gulf,  not  merely  imaginary,  but  real, 
between  us  and  our  homes  —  a  gulf,  subject  to  tempest,  and 
fear,  and  uncertainty,  rendering  distance  palpable,  and  return 
precarious. 

Such,  at  least,  was  the  case  with  myself.  As  I  saw  the  last 
blue  line  of  my  native  land  fade  away  like  a  cloud  in  the  hori- 
zon, it  seemed  as  if  I  had  closed  one  volume  of  the  world  and 
its  concerns,  and  had  time  for  meditation,  before  I  opened 
another.  That  land,  too,  now  vanishing  from  my  view,  which 
contained  all  most  dear  to  me  in  life ;  what  vicissitudes  might 
occur  in  it  —  what  changes  might  take  place  in  me,  before 
I  should  visit  it  again !  Who  can  tell,  when  he  sets  forth  to 
wander,  whither  he  may  be  driven  by  the  uncertain  currents  of 
existence ;  or  when  he  may  return ;  or  whether  it  may  ever  be 
his  lot  to  revisit  the  scenes  of  his  childhood  ? 

I  said,  that  at  sea  all  is  vacancy  :  I  should  correct  the  expres- 
sion. To  one  given  to  day  dreaming,  and  fond  of  losing  him- 
self in  reveries,  a  sea  voyage  is  full  of  subjects  for  meditation  j 
but  then  they  are  the  wonders  of  the  deep  and  of  the  air,  and 
rather  tend  to  abstract  the  mind  from  worldly  themes.  I  de- 
lighted to  loll  over  the  quarter-railing  or  climb  to  the  main-top, 
of  a  calm  day,  and  muse  for  hours  together  on  the  tranquil 
bosom  of  a  summer  sea ;  —  to  gaze  upon  the  piles  of  golden 
clouds  just  peering  above  the  horizon ;  fancy  them  some  fairy 
realms,  and  people  them  with  a  creation  of  my  own  ;  —  to  watch 
the  gentle  undulating  billows,  rolling  their  silver  volumes,  as  if 
to  die  away  on  those  happy  shores. 

There  was  a  delicious  sensation  of  mingled  security  and  awe 
with  which  I  looked  down,  from  my  giddy  height,  on  the  mon- 
sters of  the  deep  at  their  uncouth  gambols  :  shoals  of  porpoises 
tumbling  about  the  bow  of  the  ship  ;  the  grampus  slowly  heav- 
ing his  huge  form  above  the  surface  ;  or  the  ravenous  shark, 
darting  like  a  spectre,  through  the  blue  waters.  My  imagina- 
tion would  conjure  up  all  that  I  had  heard  or  read  of  the  watery 
world  beneath  me  :  of  the  finny  herds  that  roam  its  fathomless 
valleys ;  of  the  shapeless  monsters  that  lurk  among  the  very 
foundations  of  the  earth,  and  of  those  wild  phantasms  that 
swell  the  tales  of  fishermen  and  sailors. 


THE  VOYAGE.  11 

Sometimes  a  distant  sail,  gliding  along  the  edge  of  the  ocean, 
would  be  another  theme  of  idle  speculation.  How  interesting 
this  fragment  of  a  world,  hastening  to  rejoin  the  great  mass  of 
existence !  What  a  glorious  monument  of  human  invention ; 
which  has  in  a  manner  triumphed  over  wind  and  wave ;  has 
brought  the  ends  of  the  world  into  communion ;  has  established 
an  interchange  of  blessings,  pouring  into  the  sterile  regions  of 
the  north  all  the  luxuries  of  the  south ;  has  diffused  the  light  of 
knowledge,  and  the  charities  of  cultivated  life;  and  has  thus 
bound  together  those  scattered  portions  of  the  human  race,  between 
which  nature  seemed  to  have  thrown  an  insurmountable  barrier. 

We  one  day  descried  some  shapeless  object  drifting  at  a  dis- 
tance. At  sea,  every  thing  that  breaks  the  monotony  of  the 
surrounding  expanse  attracts  attention.  It  proved  to  be  the 
mast  of  a  ship  that  must  have  been  completely  wrecked ;  for 
there  were  the  remains  of  handkerchiefs,  by  which  some  of  the 
crew  had  fastened  themselves  to  this  spar,  to  prevent  their 
being  washed  off  by  the  waves.  There  was  no  trace  by  which 
the  name  of  the  ship  could  be  ascertained.  The  wreck  had 
evidently  drifted  about  for  many  months  ;  clusters  of  shell-fish 
had  fastened  abont  it,  and  long  sea-weeds  flaunted  at  its  sides. 
But  where,  thought  I,  is  the  crew?  Their  struggle  has  long 
been  over  —  they  have  gone  down  amidst  the  roar  of  the  tem- 
pest —  their  bones  lie  whitening  among  the  caverns  of  the  deep. 
Silence,  oblivion,  like  the  waves,  have  closed  over  them,  and 
no  one  can  tell  the  story  of  their  end.  What  sighs  have  been 
wafted  after  that  ship  ;  what  prayers  offered  up  at  the  deserted 
fireside  of  home !  How  often  has  the  mistress,  the  wife,  the 
mother,  pored  over  the  daily  news,  to  catch  some  casual  intelli- 
gence of  this  rover  of  the  deep  !  How  has  expectation  darkened 
into  anxiety  —  anxiety  into  dread  —  and  dread  into  despair  ! 
Alas!  not  one  memento  may  ever  return  for  love  to  cherish. 
All  that  may  ever  be  known,  is,  that  she  sailed  from  her  port, 
"  and  was  never  heard  of  more  !  " 

The  sight  of  this  wreck,  as  usual,  gave  rise  to  many  dismal 
anecdotes.  This  was  particularly  the  case  in  the  evening,  when 
the  weather,  which  had  hitherto  been  fair,  began  to  look  wild 
and  threatening,  and  gave  indications  of  one  of  those  sudden 
storms  which  will  sometimes  break  in  upon  the  serenity  of  a 
summer  voyage.  As  we  sat  round  the  dull  light  of  a  lamp,  in 
the  cabin,  that  made  the  gloom  more  ghastly,  every  one  had 
his  tale  of  shipwreck  and  disaster.  I  was  particularly  struck 
with  a  short  one  related  by  the  captain. 

"  As  I  was  once  sailing,"  said  he,  u  in  a  fine,  stout  ship,  across 


12  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

the  banks  of  Newfoundland,  one  of  those  heavy  fogs  which  pre- 
vail in  those  parts  rendered  it  impossible  for  us  to  see  far  ahead, 
even  in  the  daytime;  but  at  night  the  weather  was  so  thick 
that  we  could  not  distinguish  any  object  at  twice  the  length  of 
the  ship.  I  kept  lights  at  the  mast-head,  and  a  constant  watch 
forward  to  look  out  for  fishing  smacks,  which  are  accustomed 
to  lie  at  anchor  on  the  banks.  The  wind  was  blowing  a  smack- 
ing breeze,  and  we  were  going  at  a  great  rate  through  the 
water.  Suddenly  the  watch  gave  the  alarm  of  *  a  sail  ahead  ! ' 
—  it  was  scarcely  uttered  before  we  were  upon  her.  She  was  a 
small  schooner,  at  anchor,  with  her  broadside  toward  us.  The 
crew  were  all  asleep,  and  had  neglected  to  hoist  a  light.  We 
struck  her  just  amid-ships.  The  force,  the  size,  and  weight  of 
our  vessel,  bore  her  down  below  the  waves  ;  we  passed  over  her 
and  were  hurried  on  our  course.  As  the  crashing  wreck  was 
sinking  beneath  us,  I  had  a  glimpse  of  two  or  three  half-naked 
wretches,  rushing  from  her  cabin  ;  they  just  started  from  their 
beds  to  be  swallowed  shrieking  by  the  waves.  I  heard  their 
drowning  cry  mingling  with  the  wind.  The  blast  that  bore  it 
to  our  ears,  swept  us  out  of  all  farther  hearing.  I  shall  never 
forget  that  cry  !  It  was  some  time  before  we  could  put  the  ship 
about,  she  was  under  such  headway.  We  returned  as  nearly 
as  we  could  guess,  to  the  place  where  the  smack  had  anchored. 
We  cruised  about  for  several  hours  in  the  dense  fog.  We  fired 
signal-guns,  and  listened  if  we  might  hear  the  halloo  of  any 
survivors ;  but  all  was  silent  —  we  never  saw  or  heard  any  thing 
of  them  more." 

I  confess  these  stories,  for  a  time,  put  an  end  to  all  my  fine 
fancies.  The  storm  increased  with  the  night.  The  sea  was 
lashed  into  tremendous  confusion.  There  was  a  fearful,  sullen 
sound  of  rushing  waves  and  broken  surges.  Deep  called  unto 
deep.  At  times  the  black  volume  of  clouds  overhead  seemed 
rent  asunder  by  flashes  of  lightning  which  quivered  along  the 
foaming  billows,  and  made  the  succeeding  darkness  doubly 
terrible.  The  thunders  bellowed  over  the  wild  waste  of  waters, 
and  were  echoed  and  prolonged  by  the  mountain  waves.  As  I 
saw  the  ship  staggering  and  plunging  among  these  roaring 
caverns,  it  seemed  miraculous  that  she  regained  her  balance,  or 
preserved  her  buoyancy.  Her  yards  would  dip  into  the  water  ; 
her  bow  was  almost  buried  beneath  the  waves.  Sometimes  an 
impending  surge  appeared  ready  to  overwhelm  her,  and  nothing 
but  a  dexterous  movement  of  the  helm  preserved  her  from  the 
shock. 

When  I  retired  to  my  cabin,  the  awful  scene  still  followed 


THE   VOYAGE.  13 

me.  The  whistling  of  the  wind  through  the  rigging  sounded 
like  funereal  wailings.  The  creaking  of  the  masts  ;  the  strain- 
ing and  groaning  of  bulkheads,  as  the  ship  labored  in  the 
weltering  sea,  were  frightful  As  I  heard  the  waves  rushing 
along  the  sides  of  the  ship,  and  roaring  in  my  very  ear,  it  seemed 
as  if  Death  were  raging  round  this  floating  prison,  seeking  for 
his  prey :  the  mere  starting  of  a  nail,  the  yawning  of  a  seam, 
might  give  him  entrance. 

A  fine  day,  however,  with  a  tranquil  sea  and  favoring 
breeze,  soon  put  all  these  dismal  reflections  to  flight.  It  is 
impossible  to  resist  the  gladdening  influence  of  fine  weather  and 
fair  wind  at  sea.  When  the  ship  is  decked  out  in  all  her  canvas, 
every  sail  swelled,  and  careering  gayly  over  the  curling  waves, 
how  lofty,  how  gallant,  she  appears  —  how  she  seems  to  lord  it 
over  the  deep  !  I  might  fill  a  volume  with  the  reveries  of  a  sea 
voyage  ;  for  with  me  it  is  almost  a  continual  reverie  —  but  it  is 
time  to  get  to  shore. 

It  was  a  fine  sunny  morning  when  the  thrilling  cry  of  "  land  !  " 
was  given  from  the  mast-head.  None  but  those  who  have  ex- 
perienced it  can  form  an  idea  of  the  delicious  throng  of  sensa- 
tions which  rush  into  an  American's  bosom  when  he  first  comes 
in  sight  of  Europe.  There  is  a  volume  of  associations  with  the 
very  name.  It  is  the  land  of  promise,  teeming  with  every  thing 
of  which  his  childhood  has  heard,  or  on  which  his  studious  years 
have  pondered. 

From  that  time,  until  the  moment  of  arrival,  it  was  all  fever- 
ish excitement.  The  ships  of  war,  that  prowled  like  guardian 
giants  along  the  coast ;  the  headlands  of  Ireland,  stretching  out 
into  the  channel ;  the  Welsh  mountains,  towering  into  the 
clouds ;  all  were  objects  of  intense  interest.  As  we  sailed  up 
the  Mersey,  I  reconnoitred  the  shores  with  a  telescope.  My 
eye  dwelt  with  delight  on  neat  cottages,  with  their  trim  shrub- 
beries and  green  grass-plots.  I  saw  the  mouldering  ruin  of  an 
abbey  overrun  with  ivy,  and  the  taper  spire  of  a  village  church 
rising  from  the  brow  of  a  neighboring  hill  —  all  were  charac- 
teristic of  England. 

The  tide  and  wind  were  so  favorable,  that  the  ship  was 
enabled  to  come  at  once  to  the  pier.  It  was  thronged  with 
people  ;  some  idle  lookers-on,  others  eager  expectants  of  friends 
or  relatives.  I  could  distinguish  the  merchant  to  whom  the 
ship  was  consigned.  I  knew  him  by  his  calculating  brow  and 
restless  air.  His  hands  were  thrust  into  his  pockets,  he  was 
whistling  thoughtfully,  and  walking  to  and  fro,  a  small  space 
having  been  accorded  him  by  the  crowd,  in  deference  to  his 


14  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

temporary  importance.  There  were  repeated  cheerings  and 
salutations  interchanged  between  the  shore  and  the  ship,  as 
friends  happened  to  recognize  each  other.  I  particularly 
noticed  one  young  woman  of  humble  dress,  but  interesting  de- 
meanor. She  was  leaning  forward  from  among  the  crowd ; 
her  eye  hurried  over  the  ship  as  it  neared  the  shore,  to  catch 
some  wished-for  countenance.  She  seemed  disappointed  and 
agitated;  when  I  heard  a  faint  voice  call  her  name.  —  It  was 
from  a  poor  sailor  who  had  been  ill  all  the  voyage,  and  had  ex- 
cited the  sympathy  of  every  one  on  board.  When  the  weather 
was  fine,  his  messmates  had  spread  a  mattress  for  him  on  deck 
in  the  shade,  but  of  late  his  illness  had  so  increased  that  he  had 
taken  to  his  hammock,  and  only  breathed  a  wish  that  he  might 
see  his  wife  before  he  died.  He  had  been  helped  on  deck  as 
we  came  up  the  river,  and  was  now  leaning  against  the  shrouds, 
with  a  countenance  so  wasted,  so  pale,  so  ghastly,  that  it  was 
no  wonder  even  the  eye  of  affection  did  not  recognize  him. 
But  at  the  sound  of  his  voice,  her  eye  darted  on  his  features ; 
it  read,  at  once,  a  whole  volume  of  sorrow ;  she  clasped  her 
hands,  uttered  a  faint  shriek,  and  stood  wringing  them  in  silent 
agony. 

All  now  was  hurry  and  bustle.  The  meetings  of  acquaint- 
ances —  the  greetings  of  friends  —  the  consultations  of  men  of 
business.  I  alone  was  solitary  and  idle.  I  had  no  friend  to 
meet,  no  cheering  to  receive.  I  stepped  upon  the  land  of  my 
forefathers  —  but  felt  that  I  was  a  stranger  in  the  land. 


ROSCOE. 

In  the  service  of  mankind  to  be 

A  guardian  god  below ;  still  to  employ 

The  mind's  brave  ardor  in  heroic  aims, 

Such  as  may  raise  us  o'er  the  grovelling  herd, 

And  make  us  shine  for  ever  —  that  is  life.  —  THOMSOX. 

ONE  of  the  first  places  to  which  a  stranger  is  taken  in  Liver- 
pool, is  the  Athenseum.  It  is  established  on  a  liberal  and 
judicious  plan ;  it  contains  a  good  library,  and  spacious  read- 
ing-room, and  is  the  great  literary  resort  of  the  place.  Go 
there  at  what  hour  you  may,  you  are  sure  to  find  it  filled  with 
grave-looking  personages,  deeply  absorbed  in  the  study  of 
newspapers.  * 


HOSCOE.  15 

As  I  was  once  visiting  this  haunt  of  the  learned,  my  attention 
was  attracted  to  a  person  just  entering  the  room.  He  was  ad- 
vanced in  life,  tall,  and  of  a  form  that  might  once  have  been 
commanding,  but  it  was  a  little  bowed  by  time  —  perhaps  by 
care.  He  had  a  noble  Roman  style  of  countenance ;  a  head 
that  would  have  pleased  a  painter ;  and  though  some  slight 
furrows  on  his  brow  showed  that  wasting  thought  had  been 
busy  there,  yet  his  eye  still  beamed  with  the  fire  of  a  poetic 
soul.  There  was  something  in  his  whole  appearance  that  indi- 
cated a  being  of  a  different  order  from  the  bustling  race  around 
him. 

I  inquired  his  name,  and  was  informed  that  it  was  ROSCOE. 
I  drew  back  with  an  involuntary  feeling  of  veneration.  This, 
then,  was  an  author  of  celebrity ;  this  was  one  of  those  men 
whose  voices  have  gone  forth  to  the  ends  of  the  earth  ;  with 
whose  minds  I  have  communed  even  in  the  solitudes  of  Amer- 
ica. Accustomed,  as  we  are  in  our  country,  to  know  European 
writers  only  by  their  works,  we  cannot  conceive  of  them,  as  of 
other  men,  engrossed  by  trivial  or  sordid  pursuits,  and  jostling 
with  the  crowd  of  common  minds  in  the  dusty  paths  of  life. 
They  pass  before  our  imaginations  like  superior  beings,  radiant 
with  the  emanations  of  their  genius,  and  surrounded  by  a  halo 
of  literary  .glory. 

To  find,  therefore,  the  elegant  historian  of  the  Medici  min- 
gling among  the  busy  sons  of  traffic,  at  first  shocked  my  poeti- 
cal ideas ;  but  it  is  from  the  very  circumstances  and  situation 
in  which  he  has  been  placed,  that  Mr.  Roscoe  derives  his  high- 
est claims  to  admiration.  It  is  interesting  to  notice  how  some 
minds  seem  almost  to  create  themselves ;  springing  up  under 
every  disadvantage,  and  working  their  solitary  but  irresistible 
way  through  a  thousand  obstacles.  Nature  seems  to  delight  in 
disappointing  the  assiduities  of  art,  with  which  it  would  rear 
legitimate  dulness  to  maturity  ;  and  to  glory  in  the  vigor  and 
luxuriance  of  her  chance  productions.  She  scatters  the  seeds 
of  genius  to  the  winds,  and  though  some  may  perish  among  the 
stony  places  of  the  world,  and  some  be  choked  by  the  thorns 
and  brambles  of  early  adversity,  yet  others  will  now  and  then 
strike  root  even  in  the  clefts  of  the  rock,  struggle  bravely  up 
into  sunshine,  and  spread  over  their  sterile  birthplace  all  the 
beauties  of  vegetation. 

Such  has  been  the  case  with  Mr.  Roscoe.  Born  in  a  place 
apparently  ungenial  to  the  growth  of  literary  talent ;  in  the  very 
market-place  of  trade  ;  without  fortune,  family  connections,  or 
patronage  ;  self -prbmp ted,  self-sustained,  and  almost  self-taught, 


16  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

he  has  conquered  every  obstacle,  achieved  his  way  to  eminence, 
and  having  become  one  of  the  ornaments  of  the  nation,  has 
turned  the  whole  force  of  his  talents  and  influence  to  advance 
and  embellish  his  native  town. 

Indeed,  it  is  this  last  trait  in  his  character  which  has  given 
him  the  greatest  interest  in  my  eyes,  and  induced  me  particu- 
larly to  point  him  out  to  my  countrymen.  Eminent  as  are  his 
literary  merits,  he  is  but  one  among  the  many  distinguished 
authors  of  this  intellectual  nation.  They,  however,  in  general, 
live  but  for  their  own  fame,  or  their  own  pleasures.  Their 
private  history  presents  no  lesson  to  the  world,  or,  perhaps,  a 
humiliating  one  of  human  frailty  and  inconsistency.  At  best, 
they  are  prone  to  steal  away  from  the  bustle  and  commonplace 
of  busy  existence  ;  to  indulge  in  the  selfishness  of  lettered  ease  ; 
and  to  revel  in  scenes  of  mental,  but  exclusive  enjoyment. 

Mr.  Roscoe,  on  the  contrar}-,  has  claimed  none  of  the  accorded 
privileges  of  talent.  He  has  shut  himself  up  in  no  garden  of 
thought,  nor  elysium  of  fancy  ;  but  has  gone  forth  into  the  high- 
wa}'s  and  thoroughfares  of  life,  he  has  planted  bowers  by  the 
way-side,  for  the  refreshment  of  the  pilgrim  and  the  sojourner, 
and  has  opened  pure  fountains,  where  the  laboring  man  may 
turn  aside  from  the  dust  and  heat  of  the  day,  and  drink  of  the 
living  streams  of  knowledge.  There  is  a  "  daily  beauty  in  his 
life,"  on  which  mankind  may  meditate,  and  grow  better.  It 
exhibits  no  lofty  and  almost  useless,  because  inimitable,  ex- 
ample of  excellence ;  but  presents  a  picture  of  active,  yet  sim- 
ple and  mutable  virtues,  which  are  within  every  man's  reach,  but 
which,  unfortunately,  are  not  exercised  by  many,  or  this  world 
would  be  a  paradise. 

But  his  private  life  is  peculiarly  worthy  the  attention  of  the 
citizens  of  our  young  and  busy  country,  where  literature  and 
the  elegant  arts  must  grow  up  side  by  side  with  the  coarser 
plants  of  daily  necessity ;  and  must  depend  for  their  culture, 
not  on  the  exclusive  devotion  of  time  and  wealth ;  nor  the 
quickening  rays  of  titled  patronage  ;  but  on  hours  and  seasons 
snatched  from  the  pursuit  of  worldly  interests,  by  intelligent 
and  public-spirited  individuals. 

He  has  shown  how  much  may  be  done  for  a  place  in  hours  of 
leisure  by  one  master  spirit,  and  how  completely  it  can  give  its 
own  impress  to  surrounding  objects.  Like  his  own  Lorenzo  de 
Medici,  on  whom  he  seems  to  have  fixed  his  eye,  as  on  a  pure 
model  of  antiquity,  he  has  interwoven  the  history  of  his  life 
with  the  history  of  his  native  town,  and  has  made  the  founda- 
tions of  its  fame  the  monuments  of  his  virtues.  Wherever  you 


ROSCOE.  17 

go,  in  Liverpool,  yon  perceive  traces  of  his  footsteps  in  all  that 
is  elegant  and  liberal.  He  found  the  tide  of  wealth  flowing 
merely  in  the  channels  of  traffic ;  he  has  diverted  from  it  invig- 
orating rills  to  refresh  the  gardens  of  literature.  By  his  own 
example  and  constant  exertions,  he  has  effected  that  union  of 
commerce  and  the  intellectual  pursuits,  so  eloquently  recom- 
mended in  one  of  his  latest  writings ; l  and  has  practically 
proved  how  beautifully  they  may  be  brought  to  harmonize,  and 
to  benefit  each  other.  The  noble  institutions  for  literary  and 
scientific  purposes,  which  reflect  such  credit  on  Liverpool,  and 
are  giving  such  an  impulse  to  the  public  mind,  have  mostly 
been  originated,  and  have  all  been  effectively  promoted  by  Mr. 
Roscoe  :  and  when  we  consider  the  rapidly  increasing  opulence 
and  magnitude  of  that  town,  which  promises  to  vie  in  commer- 
cial importance  with  the  metropolis,  it  will  be  perceived  that  in 
awakening  an  ambition  of  mental  improvement  among  its  in- 
habitants, he  has  effected  a  great  benefit  to  the  cause  of  British 
literature. 

In  America,  we  know  Mr.  Roscoe  only  as  the  author  —  in 
Liverpool  he  is  spoken  of  as  the  banker ;  and  I  was  told  of  his 
having  been  unfortunate  in  business.  I  could  not  pity  him,  as 
I  heard  some  rich  men  do.  I  considered  him  far  above  the 
reach  of  pity.  Those  who  live  only  for  the  world,  and  in 
the  world,  may  be  cast  down  by  the  frowns  of  adversity ;  but 
a  man  like  Roscoe  is  not  to  be  overcome  by  the  reverses  of  for- 
tune. They  do  but  drive  him  in  upon  the  resources  of  his  own 
mind ;  to  the  superior  society  of  his  own  thoughts ;  which  the 
best  of  men  are  apt  sometimes  to  neglect,  and  to  roam  abroad 
in  search  of  less  worthy  associates.  He  is  independent  of  the 
world  around  him.  He  lives  with  antiquity  and  posterity :  with 
antiquity,  in  the  sweet  communion  of  studious  retirement ;  and 
with  posterity  in  the  generous  aspirings  after  future  renown. 
The  solitude  of  such  a  mind  is  its  state  of  highest  enjoyment. 
It  is  then  visited  by  those  elevated  meditations  which  are  the 
proper  aliment  of  noble  souls,  and  are,  like  manna,  sent  from 
heaven,  in  the  wilderness  of  this  world. 

While  my  feelings  were  yet  alive  on  the  subject,  it  was  my 
fortune  to  light  on  further  traces  of  Mr.  Roscoe.  I  was  riding 
out  with  a  gentleman,  to  view  the  environs  of  Liverpool,  when 
he  turned  off,  through  a  gate,  into  some  ornamented  grounds. 
After  riding  a  short  distance,  we  came  to  a  spacious  mansion 
of  freestone,  built  in  the  Grecian  style.  It  was  not  in  the  purest 


1  Address  on  the  opening  of  the  Liverpool  Institution. 


18  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

taste,  yet  it  had  an  air  of  elegance,  and  the  situation  was  de- 
lightful. A  fine  lawn  sloped  away  from  it,  studded  with  clumps 
of  trees,  so  disposed  as  to  break  a  soft  fertile  country  into  a 
variety  of  landscapes.  The  Mersey  was  seen  winding  a  broad 
quiet  sheet  of  water  through  an  expanse  of  green  meadow  land  ; 
while  the  Welsh  mountains,  blende'd  with  clouds,  and  melting 
into  distance,  bordered  the  horizon. 

This  was  Roscoe's  favorite  residence  during  the  days  of  his 
prosperity.  It  had  been  the  seat  of  elegant  hospitality  and  lit- 
erary retirement.  .The  house  was  now  silent  and  deserted.  I 
saw  the  windows  of  the  study,  which  looked  out  upon  the  soft 
scenery  I  have  mentioned.  The  windows  were  closed — the 
library  was  gone.  Two  or  three  ill-favored  beings  were  loiter- 
ing about  the  place,  whom  rny  fancy  pictured  into  retainers  of 
the  law.  It  was  like  visiting  some  classic  fountain  that  had 
once  welled  its  pure  waters  in  a  sacred  shade,  but  finding  it  dry 
and  dusty,  with  the  lizard  and  the  toad  brooding  over  the  shat- 
tered marbles. 

I  inquired  after  the  fate  of  Mr.  Roscoe's  library,  which  had 
consisted  of  scarce  and  foreign  books,  from  many  of  which  he 
had  drawn  the  materials  for  his  Italian  histories.  It  had  passed 
under  the  hammer  of  the  auctioneer,  and  was  dispersed  about 
the  country. 

The  good  people  of  the  vicinity  thronged  like  wreckers  to 
get  some  part  of  the  noble  vessel  that  had  been  driven  on  shore. 
Did  such  a  scene  admit  of  ludicrous  associations,  we  might 
imagine  something  whimsical  in  this  strange  irruption  in  the 
regions  of  learning.  Pigmies  rummaging  the  armory  of  a  giant, 
and  contending  for  the  possession  of  weapons  which  they  could 
not  wield.  We  might  picture  to  ourselves  some  knot  of  specu- 
lators, debating  with  calculating  brow  over  the  quaint  binding 
and  illuminated  margin  of  an  obsolete  author ;  of  the  air  of  in- 
tense, but  baffled  sagacity,  with  which  some  successful  purchaser 
attempted  to  dive  into  the,  black-letter  bargain  he  had  secured. 

It  is  a  beautiful  incident  in  the  story  of  Mr.  Roscoe's  misfor- 
tunes, and  one  which  cannot  fail  to  interest  the  studious  mind, 
that  the  parting  with  his  books  seems  to  have  touched  upon  his 
tenderest  feelings,  and  to  have  been  the  only  circumstance  that 
could  provoke  the  notice  of  his  muse.  The  scholar  only  knows 
how  dear  these  silent,  yet  eloquent,  companions  of  pure  thoughts 
and  innocent  hours  become  in  the  seasons  of  adversity.  When 
all  that  is  worldly  turns  to  dross  around  us,  these  only  retain 
their  steady  value.  When  friends  grow  cold,  and  the  converse 
of  intimates  languishes  into  vapid  civility  and  commonplace, 


ROSCOE.  19 

these  only  continue  the  unaltered  countenance  of  happier  days, 
and  cheer  us  with  that  true  friendship  which  never  deceived 
hope,  nor  deserted  sorrow. 

I  do  not  wish  to  censure ;  but,  surely,  if  the  people  of  Liver- 
pool had  been  properly  sensible  of  what  was  due  to  Mr.  Roscoe 
and  themselves,  his  library  would  never  have  been  sold.  Good 
worldly  reasons  may,  doubtless,  be  given  for  the  circumstance, 
which  it  would  be  difficult  to  combat  with  others  that  might 
seem  merely  fanciful ;  but  it  certainly  appears  to  me  such  an 
opportunity  as  seldom  occurs,  of  cheering  a  noble  mind  strug- 
gling under  misfortunes  by  one  of  the  most  delicate,  but  most 
expressive  tokens  of  public  sympathy.  It  is  difficult,  however, 
to  estimate  a  man  of  genius  properly  who  is  daily  before  our 
eyes.  He  becomes  mingled  and  confounded  with  other  men. 
His  great  qualities  lose  their  novelty,  we  become  too  familiar 
with  the  common  materials  which  form  the  basis  even  of  the 
loftiest  character.  Some  of  Mr.  Roscoe's  townsmen  may  regard 
him  merely  as  a  man  of  business ;  others  as  a  politician ;  all 
find  him  engaged  like  themselves  in  ordinary  occupations,  and 
surpassed,  perhaps,  by  themselves  on  some  points  of  worldly 
wisdom.  Even  that  amiable  and  unostentatious  simplicity  of 
character,  which  gives  the  nameless  grace  to  real  excellence, 
may  cause  him  to  be  undervalued  by  some  coarse  minds,  who 
do  not  know  that  true  worth  is  always  void  of  glare  and  preten- 
sion. But  the  man  of  letters  who  speaks  of  Liverpool,  speaks 
of  it  as  the  residence  of  Roscoe.  —  The  intelligent  traveller  who 
visits  it,  inquires  where  Roscoe  is  to  be  seen.  —  He  is  the  liter- 
ary landmark  of  the  place,  indicating  its  existence  to  the  distant 
scholar.  — He  is  like  Pompey's  column  at  Alexandria,  towering 
alone  in  classic  dignity. 

The  following  sonnet,  addressed  by  Mr.  Roscoe  to  his  books, 
on  parting  with  them,  is  alluded  to  in  the  preceding  article.  If 
any  thing  can  add  effect  to  the  pure  feeling  and  elevated  thought 
here  displayed,  it  is  the  conviction,  that  the  whole  is  no  effusion 
of  fancy,  but  a  faithful  transcript  from  the  writer's  heart : 

TO  MY  BOOKS. 

As  one,  who,  destined  from  his  friends  to  part, 
Regrets  his  loss,  but  hopes  again  erewhile 
To  share  their  converse,  and  enjoy  their  smile, 

And  tempers,  as  he  may,  affliction's  dart; 

Thus,  loved  associates,  chiefs  of  elder  art, 

Teachers  of  wisdom,  who  could  once  beguile 
My  tedious  hours,  and  lighten  every  toil, 

I  now  resign  you ;  nor  with  fainting  heart ; 


20  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

For  pass  a  few  short  years,  or  days,  or  hours, 

And  happier  seasons  may  their  dawn  unfold, 
And  all  your  sacred  fellowship  restore; 

When  freed  from  earth,  unlimited  its  powers, 
Mind  shall  with  mind  direct  communion  hold, 

And  kindred  spirits  meet  to  part  no  more. 


THE   WIFE. 

The  treasures  of  the  deep  are  not  so  precious 
As  are  the  concealed  comforts  of  a  man 
Lock'd  up  in  woman's  love.    I  scent  the  air 
Of  blessings,  when  I  come  but  near  the  house. 
What  a  delicious  breath  marriage  sends  forth  — 
The  violet  bed's  not  sweeter! 

MIDDLETON. 

I  HAVE  often  had  occasion  to  remark  the  fortitude  with  which 
women  sustain  the  most  overwhelming  reverses  of  fortune. 
Those  disasters  which  break  down  the  spirit  of  a  man,  and 
prostrate  him  in  the  dust,  seem  to  call  forth  all  the  energies  of 
the  softer  sex,  and  give  such  intrepidity  and  elevation  to  their 
character,  that  at  times  it  approaches  to  sublimity.  Nothing 
can  be  more  touching,  than  to  behold  a  soft  and  tender  female, 
who  had  been  all  weakness  and  dependence,  and  alive  to  every 
trivial  roughness,  while  treading  the  prosperous  paths  of  life, 
suddenly  rising  in  mental  force  to  be  the  comforter  and  sup- 
porter of  her  husband  under  misfortune,  and  abiding,  with  un- 
shrinking firmness,  the  bitterest  blasts  of  adversity. 

As  the  vine,  which  has  long  twined  its  graceful  foliage  about 
the  oak,  and  been  lifted  by  it  into  sunshine,  will,  when  the 
hard3T  plant  is  rifted  by  the  thunderbolt,  cling  round  it  with  its 
caressing  tendrils,  and  bind  up  its  shattered  boughs  ;  so  is  it 
beautifully  ordered  by  Providence,  that  woman,  who  is  the 
mere  dependent  and  ornament  of  man  in  his  happier  hours, 
should  be  his  stay  and  solace  when  smitten  with  sudden  calam- 
ity ;  winding  herself  into  the  rugged  recesses  of  his  nature, 
tenderly  supporting  the  drooping  head,  and  binding  up  the 
broken  heart. 

I  was  once  congratulating  a  friend,  who  had  around  him  a 
blooming  family,  knit  together  in  the  strongest  affection.  "  I 
can  wish  you  no  better  lot,"  said  he,  with  enthusiasm,  "  than 
to  have  a  wife  and  children.  If  you  are  prosperous,  there  they 
are  to  share  your  prosperity  ;  if  otherwise,  there  they  are  to 


THE   WIFE.  21 

comfort  you."  And,  indeed,  I  have  observed  that  a  married 
man  falling  into  misfortune,  is  more  apt  to  retrieve  his  situation 
in  the  world  than  a  single  one  ;  partly,  because  he  is  more  stim- 
ulated to  exertion  by  the  necessities  of  the  helpless  and  be- 
loved beings  who  depend  upon  him  for  subsistence ;  but  chiefly, 
because  his  spirits  are  soothed  and  relieved  by  domestic  endear- 
ments, and  his  self-respect  kept  alive  by  finding,  that  though 
all  abroad  is  darkness  and  humiliation,  yet  there  is  still  a  little 
world  of  love  at  home,  of  which  he  is  the  monarch.  Whereas, 
a  single  man  is  apt  to  run  to  waste  and  self-neglect ;  to  fancy 
himself  lonely  and  abandoned,  and  his  heart  to  fall  to  ruin,  like 
some  deserted  mansion,  for  want  of  an  inhabitant. 

These  observations  call  to  mind  a  little  domestic  story,  of 
which  I  was  once  a  witness.  My  intimate  friend,  Leslie,  had 
married  a  beautiful  and  accomplished  girl,  who  had  been 
brought  up  in  the  midst  of  fashionable  life.  She  had,  it  is 
true,  no  fortune,  but  that  of  my  friend  was  ample  ;  and  he 
delighted  in  the  anticipation  of  indulging  her  in  every  elegant 
pursuit,  and  administering  to  those  delicate  tastes  and  fancies 
that  spread  a  kind  of  witchery  about  the  sex.  —  "Her  life," 
said  he,  "  shall  be  like  a  fairy  tale." 

The  very  difference  in  their  characters  produced  a  harmonious 
combination  ;  he  was  of  a  romantic,  and  somewhat  serious  cast ; 
she  was  all  life  and  gladness.  I  have  often  noticed  the  mute 
rapture  with  which  he  would  gaze  upon  her  in  company,  of 
which  her  sprightly  powers  made  her  the  delight ;  and  how,  in 
the  midst  of  applause,  her  eye  would  still  turn  to  him,  as  if 
there  alone  she  sought  favor  and  acceptance.  When  leaning 
on  his  arm,  her  slender  form  contrasted  finely  with  his  tall, 
manly  person.  The  fond  confiding  air  with  which  she  looked 
up  to  him  seemed  to  call  forth  a  flush  of  triumphant  pride  and 
cherishing  tenderness,  as  if  he  doted  on  his  lovely  burden  for 
its  very  helplessness.  Never  did  a  couple  set  forward  on  the 
flowery  path  of  early  and  well-suited  marriage  with  a  fairer 
prospect  of  felicity. 

It  was  the  misfortune  of  my  friend,  however,  to  have  em- 
barked his  property  in  large  speculations ;  and  he  had  not  been 
married  many  months,  when,  by  a  succession  of  sudden  disas- 
ters, it  was  swept  from  him,  and  he  found  himself  reduced  al- 
most to  penury.  For  a  time  he  kept  his  situation  to  himself, 
and  went  about  with  a  haggard  -countenance,  and  a  breaking 
heart.  His  life  was  but  a  protracted  agony ;  and  what  ren- 
dered it  more  insupportable  was  the  necessity  of  keeping  up  a 
smile  in  the  presence  of  his  wife ;  for  he  could  not  bring  him' 


22  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

self  to  overwhelm  her  with  the  news.  She  saw,  however,  with 
the  quick  eyes  of  affection,  that  all  was  not  well  with  him.  She 
marked  his  altered  looks  and  stifled  sighs,  and  was  not  to  be 
deceived  by  his  sickly  and  vapid  attempts  at  cheerfulness.  She 
tasked  all  her  sprightly  powers  and  tender  blandishments  to 
win  him  back  to  happiness ;  but  she  only  drove  the  arrow 
deeper  into  his  soul.  The  more  he  saw  cause  to  love  her,  the 
more  torturing  was  the  thought  that  he  was  soon  to  make  her 
wretched.  A  little  while,  thought  he,  and  the  smile  will  vanish 
from  that  cheek  —  the  song  will  die  away  from  those  lips  —  the 
lustre  of  those  eyes  will  be  quenched  with  sorrow  —  and  the 
happy  heart  which  now  beats  lightly  in  that  bosom,  will  be 
weighed  down,  like  mine,  by  the  cares  and  miseries  of  the 
world. 

At  length  he  came  to  me  one  day,  and  related  his  whole 
situation  in  a  tone  of  the  deepest  despair.  When  I  had  heard 
him  through,  I  inquired,  "  Does  your  wife  know  all  this?  "  At 
the  question  he  burst  into  an  agony  of  tears.  "For  God's 
sake  !  "  cried  he,  "  if  you  have  any  pity  on  me,  don't  mention 
my  wife ;  it  is  the  thought  of  her  that  drives  me  almost  to 
madness !  " 

"And  why  not?"  said  I.  "She  must  know  it  sooner  or 
later :  you  cannot  keep  it  long  from  her,  and  the  intelligence 
may  break  upon  her  in  a  more  startling  manner  than  if  impartec] 
by  yourself  ;  for  the  accents  of  those  we  love  soften  the  harshest 
tidings.  Besides,  you  are  depriving  yourself  of  the  comforts  of 
her  sympathy ;  and  not  merely  that,  but  also  endangering  the 
only  bond  that  can  keep  hearts  together  —  an  unreserved  com- 
munity of  thought  and  feeling.  She  will  soon  perceive  that 
something  is  secretly  preying  upon  your  mind ;  and  true  love 
will  not  brook  reserve :  it  feels  undervalued  and  outraged, 
when  even  the  sorrows  of  those  it  loves  are  concealed  from  it." 

"  Oh,  but  my  friend  !  to  think  what  a  blow  I  am  .to  give  to 
all  her  future  prospects  —  how  I  am  to  strike  her  very  soul  to 
the  earth,  by  telling  her  that  her  husband  is  a  beggar  !  —  that 
she  is  to  forego  all  the  elegancies  of  life  —  all  the  pleasures  of 
society  —  to  shrink  with  me  into  indigence  and  obscurity  !  To 
tell  her  that  I  have  dragged  her  down  from  the  sphere  in  which 
she  might  have  continued  to  move  in  constant  brightness  —  the 
light  of  every  eye  —  the  admiration  of  every  heart !  —  How  can 
she  bear  poverty  ?  She  has  been  brought  up  in  all  the  refine- 
ments of  opulence.  How  can  she  bear  neglect?  She  has  been 
the  idol  of  society.  Oh,  it  will  break  her  heart  —  it  will  break 
her  heart!  " 


THE  WIFE.  23 

I  saw  his  grief  was  eloquent,  and  I  let  it  have  its  flow ;  for 
sorrow  relieves  itself  by  words.  When  his  paroxysm  had  sub- 
sided, and  he  had  relapsed  into  moody  silence,  I  resumed  the 
subject  gently,  and  urged  him  to  break  his  situation  at  once  to 
his  wife.  He  shook  his  head  mournfully,  but  positively. 

"  But  how  are  you  to  keep  it  from  her?  It  is  necessary  she 
should  know  it,  that  you  may  take  the  steps  proper  to  the 
alteration  of  your  circumstances.  You  must  change  your  style 
of  living  —  nay,"  observing  a  pang  to  pass  across  his  coun- 
tenance, "don't  let  that  afflict  you.  I  am  sure  you  have 
never  placed  your  happiness  in  outward  show  —  you  have  yet 
friends,  warm  friends,  who  will  not  think  the  worse  of  you  for 
being  less  splendidly  lodged :  and  surely  it  does  not  require  a 
palace  to  be  happy  with  Mary  —  "  "I  could  be  happy  with 
her,"  cried  he,  convulsively,  "  in  a  hovel! — I  could  go  down 
with  her  into  poverty  and  the  dust !  —  I  could  —  I  could  —  God 
bless  her! — God  bless  her!"  cried  he,  bursting  into  a  trans- 
port of  grief  and  tenderness. 

"And  believe  me,  my  friend,"  said  I,  stepping  up,  and 
grasping  him  warmly  by  the  hand,  "  believe  me,  she  can  be  the 
same  with  3^011.  Ay,  more :  it  will  be  a  source  of  pride  and 
triumph  to  her  —  it  will  call  forth  all  the  latent  energies  and 
fervent  sympathies  of  her  nature ;  for  she  will  rejoice  to  prove 
that  she  loves  you  for  yourself.  There  is  in  every  true 
woman's  heart  a  spark  of  heavenly  fire,  which  lies  dormant  in 
the  broad  daylight  of  prosperity ;  but  which  kindles  up,  and 
beams  and  blazes  in  the  dark  hour  of  adversity.  No  man 
knows  what  the  wife  of  his  bosom  is  —  no  man  knows  what  a 
ministering  angel  she  is  —  until  he  has  gone  with  her  through 
the  fiery  trials  of  this  world." 

There  was  something  in  the  earnestness  of  my  manner,  and 
the  figurative  style  of  my  language,  that  caught  the  excited 
imagination  of  Leslie.  I  knew  the  .ciiiditor  I  had  to  deal  with  ; 
and  following  up  the  impression  I  had  made,  I  finished  by  per- 
suading him  to  go  home  and  unburden  his  sad  heart  to  his 
wife. 

I  must  confess,  notwithstanding  all  I  had  said,  I  felt  some 
little  solicitude  fo.r  the  result.  Who  can  calculate  on  the  forti- 
tude of  one  whose  life  has  been  a  round  of  pleasures?  Her 
gay  spirits  might  revolt  at  the  dark,  downward  path  of  low 
humility,  suddenly  pointed  out  before  her,  and  might  cling 
to  the  sunny  regions  in  which  they  had  hitherto  revelled. 
Besides,  ruin  in  fashionable  life  is  accompanied  by  so  many 
galling  mortifications,  to  which,  in  other  ranks,  it  is  a  stranger. 


24  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

—  In  short,  I  could  not  meet  Leslie,  the  next  morning,  without 
trepidation.     He  had  made  the  disclosure. 

"  And  how  did  she  bear  it?  " 

"  Like  an  angel !  It  seemed  rather  to  be  a  relief  to  her 
mind,  for  she  threw  her  arms  round  my  neck,  and  asked  if 
this  was  all  that  had  lately  made  me  unhappy.  —  But,  poor 
girl,"  added  he,  "  she  cannot  realize  the  change  we  must 
undergo.  She  has  no  idea  of  poverty  but  in  the  abstract :  she 
has  only  read  of  it  in  poetry,  where  it  is  allied  to  love.  She 
feels  as  yet  no  privation :  she  suffers  no  loss  of  accustomed 
conveniences  nor  elegancies.  When  we  come  practically  to 
experience  its  sordid  cares,  its  paltry  wants,  its  petty  humilia- 
tions—  then  will  be  the  real  trial." 

"But,"  said  I,  "now  that  you  have  got  over  the  severest 
task,  that  of  breaking  it  to  her,  the  sooner  you  let  the  world 
into  the  secret  the  better.  The  disclosure  may  be  mortifying  ; 
but  then  it  is  a  single  misery,  and  soon  over ;  whereas  you 
otherwise  suffer  it,  in  anticipation,  ever}T  hour  in  the  day.  It 
is  not  poverty,  so  much  as  pretence,  that  harasses  a  ruined  man 

—  the  struggle  between  a  proud  mind  and  an  empty  purse  — 
the  keeping  up  a  hollow  show  that  must  soon  come  to  an  end. 
Have  the  courage  to  appear  poor,  and  you  disarm  poverty  of 
its  sharpest  sting."     On   this  point  I  found  Leslie   perfectly 
prepared.     He  had  no  false  pride  himself,  and  as  to  his  wife, 
she  was  only  anxious  to  conform  to  their  altered  fortunes. 

Some  days  afterwards,  he  called  upon  me  in  the  evening. 
He  had  disposed  of  his  dwelling-house,  and  taken  a  small  cot- 
tage in  the  country,  a  few  miles  from  town.  He  had  been 
busied  all  day  in  sending  out  furniture.  The  new  establish- 
ment required  few  articles,  and  those  of  the  simplest  kind. 
All  the  splendid  furniture  of  his  late  residence  had  been  sold, 
excepting  his  wife's  harp.  That,  he  said,  was  too  closely  asso- 
ciated with  the  idea  of  herself ;  it  belonged  to  the  little  story 
of  their  loves ;  for  some  of  the  sweetest  moments  of  their 
courtship  were  those  when  he  had  leaned  over  that  instrument, 
and  listened  to  the  melting  tones  of  her  voice.  I  could  not 
but  smile  at  this  instance  of  romantic  gallantry  in  a  doting 
husband. 

He  was  now  going  out  to  the  cottage,  where  his  wife  had 
been  all  day,  superintending  its  arrangement.  My  feelings 
had  become  strongly  interested  in  the  progress  of  this  family 
story,  and  as  it  was  a  fine  evening,  I  offered  to  accompany  him. 

He  was  wearied  with  the  fatigues  of  the  day,  and  as  we 
walked  out,  fell  into  a  fit  of  gloomy  musing. 


THE   WIFE.  25 

"  Poor  Mary  !  "  at  length  broke,  with  a  heavy  sigh,  from  his 
lips. 

"And  what  of  her,"  asked  I,  "has  any  thing  happened  to 
her?" 

"What,"  said  he,  darting  an  impatient  glance,  "is  it  noth- 
ing to  be  reduced  to  this  paltry  situation  —  to  be  caged  in  a 
miserable  cottage  —  to  be  obliged  to  toil  almost  in  the  menial 
concerns  of  her  wretched  habitation?  " 

"  Has  she  then  repined  at  the  change?  " 

"Repined!  she  has  been  nothing  but  sweetness  and  good 
humor.  Indeed,  she  seems  in  better  spirits  than  I  have  ever 
known  her ;  she  has  been  to  ine  all  love,  and  tenderness,  and 
comfort !  " 

"  Admirable  girl !  "  exclaimed  I.  "  You  call  yourself  poor, 
my  friend  ;  you  never  were  so  rich  —  you  never  knew  the  bound- 
less treasures  of  excellence  you  possess  in  that  wonian." 

"Oh!  but  my  friend,  if  this  first  meeting  at  the  cottage 
were  over,  I  think  I  could  then  be  comfortable.  But  this  is 
her  first  day  of  real  experience :  she  has  been  introduced  into 
a  humble  dwelling  —  she  has  been  employed  all  day  in  arran- 
ging its  miserable  equipments  —  she  has  for  the  first  time  known 
the  fatigues  of  domestic  employment  —  she  has  for  the  first 
time  looked  round  her  on  a  home  destitute  of  every  thing  ele- 
gant —  almost  of  every  thing  convenient ;  and  may  now  be 
sitting  down,  exhausted  and  spiritless,  brooding  over  a  prospect 
of  future  poverty." 

There  was  a  degree  of  probability  in  this  picture  that  I  could 
not  gainsay,  so  we  walked  on  in  silence. 

After  turning  from  the  main  road,  up  a  narrow  lane,  so 
thickly  shaded  with  forest  trees  as  to  give  it  a  complete  air  of 
seclusion,  we  came  in  sight  of  the  cottage.  It  was  humble 
enough  in  its  appearance  for  the  most  pastoral  poet ;  and  yet 
it  had  a  pleasing  rural  look.  A  wild  vine  had  overrun  one  end 
with  a  profusion  of  foliage ;  a  few  trees  threw  their  branches 
gracefully  over  it ;  and  I  observed  several  pots  of  flowers  taste- 
fully disposed  about  the  door,  and  on  the  grass-plot  in  front. 
A  small  wicket-gate  opened  upon  a  footpath  that  wound  through 
some  shrubbery  to  the  door.  Just  as  we  .approached,  we  heard 
the  sound  of  music  —  Leslie  grasped  my  arm  ;  we  paused  and 
listened.  It  was  Mary's  voice,  singing,  in  a  style  of  the  most 
touching  simplicuy,  a  little  air  of  which  her  husband  was  pecul- 
iarly fond. 

I  felt  Leslie's  hand  tremble  on  my  arm.  He  stepped  forward, 
to  hear  more  distinctly.  His  step  made  a  noise  on  the  gravel- 


26  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

walk.  A  bright  beautiful  face  glanced  out  at  the  window,  and 
vanished  —  a  light  footstep  was  heard  —  and  Mary  came  trip- 
ping forth  to  meet  us.  She  was  in  a  pretty  rural  dress  of 
white ;  a  few  wild  flowers  were  twisted  in  her  tine  hair ;  a  fresh 
bloom  was  on  her  cheek  ;  her  whole  countenance  beamed  with 
smiles  —  I  had  never  seen  her  look  so  lovely. 

"  My  dear  George,"  cried  she,  "  I  am  so  glad  you  are  come  ; 
I  have  been  watching  and  watching  for  you ;  and  running 
down  the  lane,  and  looking  out  for  you.  I've  set  out  a  table 
under  a  beautiful  tree  behind  the  cottage  ;  and  I've  been  gath- 
ering some  of  the  most  delicious  strawberries,  for  I  know  you 
are  fond  of  them  —  and  we  have  such  excellent  cream  —  and 
every  thing  is  so  sweet  and  still  here.  —  Oh  !  "  said  she,  putting 
her  arm  within  his,  and  looking  up  brightly  in  his  face,  "Oh, 
we  shall  be  so  happy  !  ' ' 

Poor  Leslie  was  overcome.  —  He  caught  her  to  his  bosom  — 
he  folded  his  arms  round  her  —  he  kissed  her  again  and  again 
—  he  could  not  speak,  but  the  tears  gushed  into  his  eyes  ;  and 
he  has  often  assured  me  that  though  the  world  has  since  gone 
prosperously  with  him,  and  his  life  has  indeed  been  a  happy 
one,  yet  never  has  he  experienced  a  moment  of  more  exquisite 
felicity. 


[THE  following  Tale  was  found  among  the  papers  of  the  late 
Diedrich  Knickerbocker,  an  old  gentleman  of  New- York,  who 
was  very  curious  in  the  Dutch  History  of  the  province,  and  the 
manners  of  the  descendants  from  its  primitive  settlers.  His 
historical  researches,  however,  did  not  lie  so  much  among  books 
as  among  men  ;  for  the  former  are  lamentably  scanty  on  his 
favorite  topics  ;  whereas  he  found  the  old  burghers,  and  still 
more,  their  wives,  rich  in  that  legendary  lore,  so  invaluable  to 
true  history.  Whenever,  therefore,  he  happened  upon  a  genu- 
ine Dutch  family,  snugly  shut  up  in  its  low-roofed  farmhouse, 
under  a  spreading  sycamore,  he  looked  upon  it  as  a  little 
clasped  volume  of  black-letter,  and  studied  it  with  the  zeal  of 
a  bookworm. 

The  result  of  all  these  researches  was  a  history  of  the  prov- 
ince, during  the  reign  of  the  Dutch  governors,  which  he  pub- 
lished some  years  since.  There  have  been  various  opinions  as 
to  the  literary  character  of  his  work,  and,  to  tell  the  truth,  it 
is  not  a  whit  better  than  it  should  be.  Its  chief  merit  is  its 
scrupulous  accuracy,  which,  indeed,  was  a  little  questioned,  on 


RIP    VAN    WINKLE.  27 

its  first  appearance,  but  has  since  been  completely  established  ; 
and  it  is  now  admitted  into  all  historical  collections,  as  a  book 
of  unquestionable  authority. 

The  old  gentleman  died  shortly  after  the  publication  of  his 
work,  and  now,  that  he  is  dead  and  gone,  it  cannot  do  much 
harm  to  his  memory,  to  say,  that  his  time  might  have  been 
much  better  employed  in  weightier  labors.  He,  however,  was 
apt  to  ride  his  hobby  his  own  way  ;  and  though  it  did  now  and 
then  kick  up  the  dust  a  little  in  the  eyes  of  his  neighbors,  and 
grieve  the  spirit  of  some  friends  for  whom  he  felt  the  truest 
deference  and  affection,  yet  his  errors  and  follies  are  remem- 
bered "more  in  sorrow  than  in  anger,"1  and  it  begins  to  be 
suspected,  that  he  never  intended  to  injure  or  offend.  But 
however  his  memory  may  be  appreciated  by  critics,  it  is  still 
held  dear  by  many  folk,  whose  good  opinion  is  well  worth 
having ;  particularly  by  certain  biscuit-bakers,  who  have  gone 
so  far  as  to  imprint  his  likeness  on  their  new-year  cakes,  and 
have  thus  given  him  a  chance  for  immortality,  almost  equal  to 
the  being  stamped  on  a  Waterloo  medal,  or  a  Queen  Anne's 
farthing.] 

RIP  VAN   WINKLE. 

A   POSTHUMOUS    WRITING    OF   DIEDRICH    KNICKERBOCKER. 

By  Woden,  God  of  Saxons, 

From  whence  comes  Wensday,  that  is  Wodensday, 

Truth  is  a  thing  that  ever  I  will  keep 

Unto  thylke  day  in  which  I  creep  into 

My  sepulchre.  —  CARTWBIGHT. 

WHOEVER  has  made  a  voyage  up  the  Hudson,  must  remem- 
ber the  Kaatskill  mountains.  They  are  a  dismembered  branch 
of  the  great  Appalachian  family,  and  are  seen  away  to  the  west 
of  the  river,  swelling  up  to  a  noble  height,  and  lording  it  over 
the  surrounding  country.  Every  change  of  season,  every  change 
of  weather,  indeed  every  hour  of  the  day,  produces  some  change 
in  the  magical  hues  and  shapes  of  these  mountains  ;  and  they 
are  regarded  by  all  the  good  wives,  far  and  near,  as  perfect 
barometers.  When  the  weather  is  fair  and  settled,  they  are 
clothed  in  blu^and  purple,  and  print  their  bold  outlines  on  the 
clear  evening  sky ;  but  sometimes,  when  the  rest  of  the  land- 
scape is  cloudless,  they  will  gather  a  hood  of  gray  vapors 

f  Vide  the  excellent  discourse  of  G.  C.  Verplanck,  Esq.,  before  the  New- York 
Historical  Society. 


28  THE   SKETCH-BOOK. 

about  their  summits,  which,  in  the  last  rays  of  the  setting  sun, 
will  glow  and  light  up  like  a  crown  of  glory. 

At  the  foot  of  these  fairy  mountains,  the  voyager  may  have 
descried  the  light  smoke  curling  up  from  a  village,  whose  shin- 
gle roofs  gleam  among  the  trees,  just  where  the  blue  tints  of 
the  upland  melt  away  into  the  fresh  green  of  the  nearer  land- 
scape. It  is  a  little  village  of  great  antiquity,  having  been 
founded  by  some  of  the  Dutch  colonists,  in  the  early  times  of 
the  province,  just  about  the  beginning  of  the  government  of  the 
good  Peter  Stuyvesant  (may  he  rest  in  peace  !)  and  there  were 
some  of  the  houses  of  the  original  settlers  standing  within  a 
few  years,  built  of  small  yellow  bricks  brought  from  Holland, 
having  latticed  windows  and  gable  fronts,  surmounted  with 
weathercocks. 

In  that  same  village,  and  in  one  of  these  very  houses  (which 
to  tell  the  precise  truth,  was  sadly  time-worn  and  weather- 
beaten),  there  lived  many  years  since,  while  the  country  was 
yet  a  province  of  Great  Britain,  a  simple,  good-natured  fellow, 
of  the  name  of  Rip  Van  Winkle.  He  was  a  descendant  of  the 
Van  Winkles  who  figured  so  gallantly  in  the  chivalrous  days 
of  Peter  Stuyvesant,  and  accompanied  him  to  the  siege  of  fort 
Christina.  He  inherited,  however,  but  little  of  the  martial 
character  of  his  ancestors.  I  have  observed  that  he  was  a 
simple  good-natured  man ;  he  was  moreover  a  kind  neighbor, 
and  an  obedient  henpecked  husband.  Indeed,  to  the  latter 
circumstance  might  be  owing  that  meekness  of  spirit  which 
gained  him  such  universal  popularity ;  for  those  men  are  most 
apt  to  be  obsequious  and  conciliating  abroad,  who  are  under  the 
discipline  of  shrews  at  home.  Their  tempers,  doubtless,  are 
rendered  pliant  and  malleable  in  the  fiery  furnace  of  domestic 
tribulation,  and  a  curtain  lecture  is  worth  all  the  sermons  in 
the  world  for  teaching  the  virtues  of  patience  and  long-suffering. 
A  termagant  wife  ma}',  therefore,  in  some  respects,  be  consid- 
ered a  tolerable  blessing  ;  and  if  so.  Rip  Van  Winkle  was  thrice 
blessed. 

Certain  it  is,  that  he  was  a  great  favorite  among  all  the  good 
wives  of  the  village,  who,  as  usual  with  the  amiable  sex,  took 
his  part  in  all  family  squabbles,  and  never  failed,  whenever 
they  talked  those  matters  over  in  their  evening  gossipings,  to 
lay  all  the  blame  on  Dame  Van  Winkle.  The  children  of  the 
village,  too,  would  shout  with  joy  whenever  he  approached. 
He  assisted  at  their  sports,  made  their  playthings,  taught  them 
to  fly  kites  and  shoot  marbles,  and  told  them  long  stories  of 
ghosts,  witches,  and  Indians.  Whenever  he  went  dodging 


RIP    VAN   WINKLE.  29 

about  the  village,  he  was  surrounded  by  a  troop  of  them  hang- 
ing on  his  skirts,  clambering  on  his  back,  and  playing  a  thou- 
sand tricks  on  him  with  impunity ;  and  not  a  dog  would  bark 
at  him  throughout  the  neighborhood. 

The  great  error  in  Rip's  composition  was  an  insuperable 
aversion  to  all  kinds  of  profitable  labor.  It  could  not  be  from 
the  want  of  assiduity  or  perseverance ;  for  he  would  sit  on  a 
wet  rock,  with  a  rod  as  long  and  heavy  as  a  Tartar's  lance,  and 
fish  all  day  without  a  murmur,  even  though  he  should  not  be 
encouraged  by  a  single  nibble.  He  would  carry  a  fowling-piece 
on  his  shoulder  for  hours  together,  trudging  through  woods  and 
swamps,  and  up  hill  and  down  dale,  to  shoot  a  few  squirrels  or 
wild  pigeons.  He  would  never  refuse  to  assist  a  neighbor, 
even  in  the  roughest  toil,  and  was  a  foremost  man  at  all  country 
frolics  for  husking  Indian  corn  or  building  stone  fences.  The 
women  of  the  village,  too,  used  to  employ  him  to  run  their 
errands,  and  to  do  such  little  odd  jobs  as  their  less  obliging 
husbands  would  not  do  for  them  ;  —  in  a  word,  Rip  was  ready  to 
attend  to  anybody's  business  but  his  own  ;  but  as  to  doing  family 
duty,  and  keeping  his  farm  in  order,  he  found  it  impossible. 

In  fact,  he  declared  it  was  of  no  use  to  work  on  his  farm  ;  it 
was  the  most  pestilent  little  piece  of  ground  in  the  whole  coun- 
ty ;  every  thing  about  it  went  wrong,  and  would  go  wrong  in 
spite  of  him.  His  fences  were  continually  falling  to  pieces  ; 
his  cow  would  either  go  astray,  or  get  among  the  cabbages ; 
weeds  were  sure  to  grow  quicker  in  his  fields  than  anywhere 
else  ;  the  rain  always  made  a  point  of  setting  in  just  as  he  had 
some  out-door  work  to  do ;  so  that  though  his  patrimonial 
estate  had  dwindled  away  under  his  management,  acre  by  acre, 
until  there  was  little  more  left  than  a  mere  patch  of  Indian 
corn  and  potatoes,  yet  it  was  the  worst  conditioned  farm  in  the 
neighborhood. 

His  children,  too,  were  as  ragged  and  wild  as  if  they  be- 
longed to  nobody.  His  son  Rip,  an  urchin  begotten  in  his  own 
likeness,  promised  to  inherit  the  habits,  with  the  old  clothes  of 
his  father.  He  was  generally  seen  trooping  like  a  colt  at  his 
mother's  heels,  equipped  in  a  pair  of  his  father's  cast-off  galli- 
gaskins, which  he  had  much  ado  to  hold  up  with  one  hand,  as 
a  fine  lady  does  her  train  in  bad  weather. 

Rip  Van  Winkle,  however,  was  one  of  those  happy  mortals, 
of  foolish,  well-oiled  dispositions,  who  take  the  world  easy,  eat 
white  bread  or  brown,  whichever  can  be  got  with  least  thought 
or  trouble,  and  would  rather  starve  on  a  penny  than  work  for  a 
pound.  If  left  to  himself,  he  would  have  whistled  life  away  in 


30  THE   SKETCH-BOOK. 

perfect  contentment ;  but  his  wife  kept  continually  dinning  in 
his  ears  about  his  idleness,  his  carelessness,  and  the  ruin  he 
was  bringing  on  his  family. 

Morning,  noon,  and  night,  her  tongue  was  incessantly  going, 
and  every  thing  he  said  or  did  was  sure  to  produce  a  torrent  of 
household  eloquence.  Rip  had  but  one  way  of  replying  to  all 
lectures  of  the  kind,  and  that,  by  frequent  use,  had  grown  into 
a  habit.  He  shrugged  his  shoulders,  shook  his  head,  cast  up 
his  eyes,  but  said  nothing.  This,  however,  always  provoked  a 
fresh  volley  from  his  wife,  so  that  he  was  fain  to  draw  off  his 
forces,  and  take  to  the  outside  of  the  house  —  the  only  side 
which,  in  truth,  belongs  to  a  henpecked  husband. 

Rip's  sole  domestic  adherent  was  his  dog  Wolf,  who  was  as 
much  henpecked  as  his  master ;  for  Dame  Van  Winkle  regarded 
them  as  companions  in  idleness,  and  even  looked  upon  Wolf 
with  an  evil  eye  as  the  cause  of  his  master's  going  so  often 
astray.  True  it  is,  in  all  points  of  spirit  befitting  an  honorable 
dog,  he  was  as  courageous  an  animal  as  ever  scoured  the  woods 
—  but  what  courage  can  withstand  the  ever-during  and  all-be- 
setting terrors  of  a  woman's  tongue?  The  moment  Wolf 
entered  the  house,  his  crest  fell,  his  tail  drooped  to  the  ground, 
or  curled  between  his  legs,  he  sneaked  about  with  a  gallows  air, 
casting  many  a  sidelong  glance  at  Dame  Van  Winkle,  and  at 
the  least  flourish  of  a  broomstick  or  ladle,  he  would  fly  to  the 
door  with  yelping  precipitation. 

Times  grew  worse  and  worse  with  Rip  Van  Winkle,  as  years 
of  matrimony  rolled  on  :  a  tart  temper  never  mellows  with  age, 
and  a  sharp  tongue  is  the  only  edge  tool  that  grows  keener  with 
constant  use.  For  a  long  while  he  used  to  console  himself, 
when  driven  from  home,  by  frequenting  a  kind  of  perpetual 
club  of  the  sxiges,  philosophers,  and  other  idle  personages  of 
the  village,  which  held  its  sessions  on  a  bench  before  a  small 
inn,  designated  by  a  rubicund  portrait  of  his  majesty  George 
the  Third.  Here  they  used  to  sit  in  the  shade,  of  a  long  lazy 
summer's  day,  talking  listlessly  over  village  gossip,  or  telling 
endless  sleepy  stories  about  nothing.  But  it  would  have  been 
worth  any  statesman's  money  to  have  heard  the  profound  discus- 
sions that  sometimes  took  place,  when  by  chance  an  old  news- 
paper fell  into  their  hands,  from  some  passing  traveller.  How 
solemnly  they  would  listen  to  the  contents,  as  drawled  out  by 
Derrick  Van  Bummel,  the  schoolmaster,  a  dapper  learned  little 
man,  who  was  not  to  be  daunted  by  the  most  gigantic  word  in 
the  dictionary  ;  and  how  sagely  they  would  deliberate  upon 
public  events  some  months  after  they  had  taken  place. 


RIP   VAN   WINKLE.  31 

The  opinions  of  this  junto  were  completely  controlled  by 
Nicholas  V^edder,  a  patriarch  of  the  village,  and  landlord  of  the 
inn,  at  the  door  of  which  he  took  his  seat  from  morning  till 
night,  just  moving  sufficiently  to  avoid  the  sun,  and  keep  in 
the  shade  of  a  large  tree ;  so  that  the  neighbors  could  tell  the 
hour  by  his  movements  as  accurately  as  by  a  sun-dial.  It  is 
true,  he  was  rarely  heard  to  speak,  but  smoked  his  pipe  inces- 
santly. His  adherents,  however  (for  every  great  man  has  his 
adherents),  perfectly  understood  him,  and  knew  how  to  gather 
his  opinions.  When  any  thing  that  was  read  or  related  dis- 
pleased him,  he  was  observed  to  smoke  his  pipe  vehemently, 
and  to  send  forth  short,  frequent,  and  angry  puffs ;  but  when 
pleased,  he  would  inhale  the  smoke  slowly  and  tranquilly,  and 
emit  it  in  light  and  placid  clouds,  and  sometimes  taking  the 
pipe  from  his  mouth,  and  letting  the  fragrant  vapor  curl  about 
his  nose,  would  gravely  nod  his  head  in  token  of  perfect  appro- 
bation. 

From  even  this  strong  hold  the  unlucky  Rip  was  at  length 
routed  by  his  termagant  wife,  who  would  suddenly  break  in 
upon  the  tranquillity  of  the  assemblage,  and  call  the  members 
all  to  nought ;  nor  was  that  august  personage,  Nicholas  Vedder 
himself,  sacred  from  the  daring  tongue  of  this  terrible  virago, 
who  charged  him  outright  with  encouraging  her  husband  in 
habits  of  idleness. 

Poor  Rip  was  at  last  reduced  almost  to  despair,  and  his  only 
alternative  to  escape  from  the  labor  of  the  farm  and  clamor 
of  his  wife,  was  to  take  gun  in  hand,  and  stroll  away  into 
the  woods.  Here  he  would  sometimes  seat  himself  at  the 
foot  of  a  tree,  and  share  the  contents  of  his  wallet  with  Wolf, 
with  whom  he  sympathized  as  a  fellow-sufferer  in  persecution. 
"  Poor  Wolf,"  he  would  say,  "  thy  mistress  leads  thee  a  dog's 
life  of  it ;  but  never  mind,  my  lad,  whilst  I  live  thou  shalt 
never  want  a  friend  to  stand  by  thee  !  "  Wolf  would  wag  his 
tail,  look  wistfully  in  his  master's  face,  and 'if  dogs  can  feel 
pity,  I  verily  believe  he  reciprocated  the  sentiment  with  all  his 
heart. 

In  a  long  ramble  of  the  kind,  on  a  fine  autumnal  day,  Rip 
had  unconsciously  scrambled  to  one  of  the  highest  parts  of  the 
Kaatskill  mountains.  He  was  after  his  favorite  sport  of 
squirrel- shooting,  and  the  still  solitudes  had  echoed  and  re- 
echoed with  the  reports  of  his  gun.  Panting  and  fatigued,  he 
threw  himself,  late  in  the  afternoon,  on  a  green  knoll  covered 
with  mountain  herbage,  that  crowned  the  brow  of  a  precipice. 
From  an  opening  between  the  trees,  he  could  overlook  all  the 


32  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

lower  country  for  many  a  mile  of  rich  woodland.  He  saw  at  a 
distance  the  lordly  Hudson,  far,  far  below  him,  moving  on  its 
silent  but  majestic  course,  with  the  reflection  of  a  purple  cloud, 
or  the  sail  of  a  lagging  bark,  here  and  there  sleeping  on  its 
glassy  bosom,  and  at  last  losing  itself  in  the  blue  highlands. 

On  the  other  side  he  looked  down  into  a  deep  mountain  glen, 
wild,  lonely,  and  shagged,  the  bottom  filled  with  fragments 
from  the  impending  cliffs,  and  scarcely  lighted  by  the  reflected 
rays  of  the  setting  sun.  For  some  time  Rip  lay  musing  on  this 
scene  ;  evening  was  gradually  advancing  ;  the  mountains  began 
to  throw  their  long  blue  shadows  over  the  valleys  ;  he  saw  that 
it  would  be  dark  long  before  he  could  reach  the  village ;  and 
he  heaved  a  heavy  sigh  when  he  thought  of  encountering  the 
terrors  of  Dame  Van  Winkle. 

As  he  was  about  to  descend  he  heard  a  voice  from  a  distance 
hallooing,  "  Rip  Van  Winkle  !  Rip  Van  Winkle  !  "  He  looked 
round,  but  could  see  nothing  but  a  crow  winging  its  solitary 
flight  across  the  mountain.  He  thought  his  fancy  must  have 
deceived  him,  and  turned  again  to  descend,  when  he  heard  the 
same  cry  ring  through  the  still  evening  air,  "  Rip  Van  Winkle  ! 
Rip  Van  Winkle!"  —at  the  same  time  Wolf  bristled  up  his 
back,  and  giving  a  low  growl,  skulked  to  his  master's  side, 
looking  fearfully  down  into  the  glen.  Rip  now  felt  a  vague 
apprehension  stealing  over  him :  he  looked  anxiously  in  the 
same  direction,  and  perceived  a  strange  figure  slowly  toiling 
up  the  rocks,  and  bending  under  the  weight  of  something  he 
carried  on  his  back.  He  was  surprised  to  see  any  human  being 
in  this  lonely  and  unfrequented  place,  but  supposing  it  to  be 
some  one  of  the  neighborhood  in  need  of  his  assistance,  he 
hastened  down  to  yield  it. 

On  nearer  approach,  he  was  still  more  surprised  at  the  singu- 
larity of  the  stranger's  appearance.  He  was  a  short  square- 
built  old  fellow,  with  thick  bushy  hair,  and  a  grizzled  beard. 
His  dress  was  of  the  antique  Dutch  fashion  —  a  cloth  jerkin 
strapped  round  the  waist  —  several  pair  of  breeches,  the  outer 
one  of  ample  volume,  decorated  with  rows  of  buttons  down  the 
sides,  and  bunches  at  the  knees.  He  bore  on  his  shoulder  a 
stout  keg,  that  seemed  full  of  liquor,  and  made  signs  for  Rip 
to  approach  and  assist  him  with  the  load.  Though  rather  shy 
and  distrustful  of  this  new  acquaintance,  Rip  complied  with 
his  usual  alacrity,  and  mutually  relieving  one  another,  they 
clambered  up  a  narrow  gully,  apparently  the  dry  bed  of  a 
mountain  torrent.  As  they  ascended,  Rip  every  now  and  then 
heard  long  rolling  peals,  like  distant  thunder,  that  seemed  to 


KIP    VAN    WINKLE.  33 

issue  out  of  a  deep  ravine  or  rather  cleft  between  lofty  rocks, 
toward  which  their  rugged  path  conducted.  He  paused  for  an 
instant,  but  supposing  it  to  be  the  muttering  of  one  of  those 
transient  thunder-showers  which  often  take  place  in  mountain 
heights,  he  proceeded.  Passing  through  the  ravine,  they  came 
to  a  hollow,  like  a  small  amphitheatre,  surrounded  by  perpen- 
dicular precipices,  over  the  brinks  of  which,  impending  trees 
shot  their  branches,  so  that  you  only  caught  glimpses  of  the 
azure  sky,  and  the  bright  evening  cloud.  During  the  whole 
time,  Rip  and  his  companion  had  labored  on  in  silence  ;  for 
though  the  former  marvelled  greatly  what  could  be  the  object 
of  carrying  a  keg  of  liquor  up  this  wild  mountain,  yet  there  was 
something  strange  and  incomprehensible  about  the  unknown, 
that  inspired  awe,  and  checked  familiarity. 

On  entering  the  amphitheatre,  new  objects  of  wonder  pre- 
sented themselves.  On  a  level  spot  in  the  centre  was  a  com- 
pany of  odd-looking  personages  playing  at  nine-pins.  They 
were  dressed  in  a  quaint  outlandish  fashion :  some  wore  short 
doublets,  others  jerkins,  with  long  knives  in  their  belts,  and 
most  of  them  had  enormous  breeches,  of  similar  style  with  that 
of  the  guide's.  Their  visages,  too,  were  peculiar;  one  had  a 
large  beard,  broad  face,  and  small  piggish  eyes ;  the  face  of  an- 
other seemed  to  consist  entirely  of  nose,  and  was  surmounted 
by  a  white  sugar-loaf  hat,  set  off  with  a  little  red  cock's  tail. 
They  all  had  beards,  of  various  shapes  and  colors.  There 
was  one  who  seemed  to  be  the  commander.  He  was  a  stout 
old  gentleman,  with  a  weather-beaten  countenance ;  he  wore  a 
laced  doublet,  broad  belt  and  hanger,  high-crowned  hat  and 
feather,  red  stockings,  and  high-heeled  shoes,  with  roses  in 
them.  The  whole  group  reminded  Rip  of  the  figures  in  an  old 
Flemish  painting,  in  the  parlor  of  Dominie  Van  Shaick,  the  vil- 
lage parson,  and  which  had  been  brought  over  from  Holland  at 
the  time  of  the  settlement. 

What  seemed  particularly  odd  to  Rip,  was,  that  though  these 
folks  were  evidently  amusing  themselves,  yet  they  maintained 
the  gravest  faces,  the  most  mysterious  silence,  and  were,  withal, 
the  most  melancholy  party  of  pleasure  he  had  ever  witnessed. 
Nothing  interrupted  the  stillness  of  the  scene  but  the  noise  of 
the  balls,  which,  whenever  they  were  rolled,  echoed  along  the 
mountains  like  rumbling  peals  of  thunder. 

As  Rip  and  his  companion  approached  them,  they  suddenly 
desisted  from  their  play,  and  stared  at  him  with  such  fixed 
statue-like  gaze,  and  such  strange,  uncouth,  lack-lustre  coun- 
tenances, that  his  heart  turned  within  him,  and  his  knees  smote 


34  THE  SKETCH-BOOR. 

together.  His  companion  now  emptied  the  contents  of  the  keg 
into  large  flagons,  and  made  signs  to  him  to  wait  upon  the  com- 
pany. He  obeyed  with  fear  and  trembling ;  they  quaffed  the 
liquor  in  profound  silence,  and  then  returned  to  their  game. 

By  degrees,  Rip's  awe  and  apprehension  subsided.  He  even 
ventured,  when  no  eye  was  fixed  upon  him,  to  taste  the  bev- 
erage, which  he  found  had  much  of  the  flavor  of  excellent 
Hollands.  He  was  naturally  a  thirsty  soul,  and  was  soon 
tempted  to  repeat  the  draught.  One  taste  provoked  another, 
and  he  reiterated  his  visits  to  the  flagon  so  often,  that  at  length 
his  senses  were  overpowered,  his  eyes  swam  in  his  head,  his 
head  gradually  declined,  and  he  fell  into  a  deep  sleep. 

On  waking,  he  found  himself  on  the  green  knoll  whence 
he  had  first  seen  the  old  man  of  the  glen.  He  rubbed  his  eyes 

—  it  was  a  bright  sunny  morning.    The  birds  were  hopping  and 
twittering  among  the  bushes,  and  the  eagle  was  wheeling  aloft, 
and  breasting  the  pure  mountain  breeze.     "Surely,"  thought 
Rip,  "  I  have  not  slept  here  all  night."     He  recalled  the  occur- 
rences before  he  fell  asleep.     The  strange  man  with  the  keg  of 
liquor  —  the  mountain  ravine  —  the  wild  retreat  among  the  rocks 

—  the  wo-begone  party  at  nine-pins  —  the  flagon  —  "  Oh  !  that 
flagon !  that  wicked  flagon !  "  thought  Rip  —  "  what  excuse  shall 
I  make  to  Dame  Van  Winkle?  " 

He  looked  round  for  his  gun,  but  in  place  of  the  clean  well- 
oiled  fowling-piece,  he  found  an  old  fire-lock  lying  b}'  him,  the 
barrel  encrusted  with  rust,  the  lock  falling  off,  and  the  stock 
worm-eaten.  He  now  suspected  that  the  grave  roysters  of  the 
mountain  had  put  a  trick  upon  him,  and  having  dosed  him  with 
liquor,  had  robbed  him  of  his  gun.  Wolf,  too,  had  disappeared, 
but  he  might  have  strayed  away  after  a  squirrel  or  partridge. 
He  whistled  after  him,  and  shouted  his  name,  but  all  in  vain; 
the  echoes  repeated  his  whistle  and  shout,  but  no  dog  was  to  be 
seen. 

He  determined  to  revisit  the  scene  of  the  last  evening's 
gambol,  and  if  he  met  with  any  of  the  party,  to  demand  his 
dog  and  gun.  As  he  rose  to  walk,  he  found  himself  stiff  in  the 
joints,  and  wanting  in  his  usual  activity.  "These  mountain 
beds  do  not  agree  with  me,"  thought  Rip,  "and  if  this  frolic 
should  lay  me  up  with  a  fit  of  the  rheumatism,  I  shall  have  a 
blessed  time  with  Dame  Van  Winkle."  With  some  difficulty 
he  got  down  into  the  glen  ;  he  found  the  gully  up  which  he  and 
his  companion  had  ascended  the  preceding  evening ;  but  to  his 
astonishment  a  mountain  stream  was  now  foaming  down  it, 
leaping  from  rock  to  rock,  and  filling  the  glen  with  babbling 


EIP    VAN    WINKLE.  35 

murmurs.  He,  however,  made  shift  to  scramble  up  its  sides, 
working  his  toilsome  way  through  thickets  of  birch,  sassafras, 
and  witch-hazel ;  and  sometimes  tripped  up  or  entangled  by  the 
wild  grape  vines  that  twisted  their  coils  or  tendrils  from  tree  to 
tree,  and  spread  a  kind  of  network  in  his  path. 

At  length  he  reached  to  where  the  ravine  had  opened  through 
the  cliffs  to  the  amphitheatre ;  but  no  traces  of  such  'opening 
remained.  The  rocks  presented  a  high  impenetrable  wall,  over 
which  the  torrent  came  tumbling  in  a  sheet  of  feathery  foam, 
and  fell  into  a  broad  deep  basin,  black  from  the  shadows  of 
the  surrounding  forest.  Here,  then,  poor  Rip  was  brought  to 
a  stand.  He  again  called  and  whistled  after  his  dog;  he  was 
only  answered  by  the  cawing  of  a  flock  of  idle  crows,  sporting 
high  in  air  about  a  dry  tree  that  overhung  a  sunny  precipice  ; 
and  who,  secure  in  their  elevation,  seemed  to  look  clown  and 
scoff  at  the  poor  man's  perplexities.  What  was  to  be  done? 
The  morning  was  passing  away,  and  Rip  felt  famished  for  want 
of  his  breakfast.  He  grieved  to  give  up  his  dog  and  gun ;  he 
dreaded  to  meet  his  wife  ;  but  it  would  not  do  to  starve  among 
the  mountains.  He  shook  his  head,  shouldered  the  rusty  fire- 
lock, and  with  a  heart  full  of  trouble  and  anxiety,  turned  his 
steps  homeward. 

As  he  approached  the  village,  he  met  a  number  of  people, 
but  none  whom  he  knew,  which  somewhat  surprised  him,  for  he 
had  thought  himself  acquainted  with  every  one  in  the  country 
round.  Their  dress,  too,  was  of  a  different  fashion  from  that 
to  which  he  was  accustomed.  They  all  stared  at  him  with  equal 
marks  of  surprise,  and  whenever  they  cast  their  eyes  upon  him, 
invariably  stroked  their  chins.  The  constant  recurrence  of  this 
gesture,  induced  Rip,  involuntarily,  to  do  the  same,  when,  to 
his  astonishment,  he  found  his  beard  had  grown  a  foot  long ! 

He  had  now  entered  the  skirts  of  the  village.  A  troop  of 
strange  children  ran  at  his  heels,  hooting  after  him,  and  point- 
ing at  his  gray  beard.  The  dogs,  too,  not  one  of  which  he 
recognized  for  an  old  acquaintance,  barked  at  him  as  he  passed. 
The  very  village  was  altered  :  it  was  lar^3r  and  more  populous. 
There  were  rows  of  houses  which  he  had  never  seen  before, 
and  those  which  had  been  his  familiar  haunts  had  disappeared. 
Strange  names  were  over  the  doors  —  strange  faces  at  the  win- 
dows —  every  thing  was  strange.  His  mind  now  misgave  him  ; 
he  began  to  doubt  whether  both  he  and  the  world  around  him 
were  not  bewitched.  Surely  this  was  his  native  village,  which 
he  had  left  but  the  day  before.  There  stood  the  Kaatskill  moun- 
tains —  there  ran  the  silver  Hudson  at  a  distance  —  there  was 


36  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

every  hill  and  dale  precisely  as  it  had  always  been  —  Rip  was 
sorely  perplexed  —  "  That  flagon  last  night,"  thought  he,  "  has 
addled  my  poor  head  sadly  !  " 

It  was  with  some  difficulty  that  he  found  the  way  to  his  own 
house,  which  he  approached  with  silent  awe,  expecting  every 
moment  to  hear  the  shrill  voice  of  Dame  Van  Winkle.  He 
found  the  house  gone  to  decay  —  the  roof  fallen  in,  the  windows 
shattered,  and  the  doors  off  the  hinges.  A  half-starved  dog, 
that  looked  like  Wolf,  was  skulking  about  it.  Rip  called  him 
by  name,  but  the  cur  snarled,  showed  his  teeth,  and  passed  on. 
This  was  an  unkind  cut  indeed.  —  "  My  very  dog,"  sighed  poor 
Rip,  "  has  forgotten  me  !  " 

He  entered  the  house,  which,  to  tell  the  truth,  Dame  Van 
Winkle  had  always  kept  in  neat  order.  It  was  empty,  forlorn, 
and  apparently  abandoned.  This  desolateness  overcame  all  his 
connubial  fears — he  called  loudly  for  his  wife  and  children  — 
the  lonely  chambers  rang  for  a  moment  with  his  voice,  and  then 
all  again  was  silence. 

He  now  hurried  forth,  and  hastened  to  his  old  resort,  the  vil- 
lage inn  —  but  it  too  was  gone.  A  large  rickety  wooden  build- 
ing stood  in  its  place,  with  great  gaping  windows,  some  of  them 
broken,  and  mended  with  old  hats  and  petticoats,  and  over  the 
door  was  painted,  "  The  Union  Hotel,  by  Jonathan  Doolittle." 
Instead  of  the  great  tree  that  used  to  shelter  the  quiet  little 
Dutch  inn  of  yore,  there  now  was  reared  a  tall  naked  pole,  with 
something  on  the  top  that  looked  like  a  red  night-cap,  and  from 
it  was  fluttering  a  flag,  on  which  was  a  singular  assemblage  of 
stars  and  stripes  —  all  this  was  strange  and  incomprehensible. 
He  recognized  on  the  sign,  however,  the  ruby  face  of  King 
George,  under  which  he  had  smoked  so  many  a  peaceful  pipe, 
but  even  this  was  singularly  metamorphosed.  The  red  coat 
was  changed  for  one  of  blue  and  buff,  a  sword  was  held  in  the 
hand  instead  of  a  sceptre,  the  head  was  decorated  with  a  cocked 
hat,  and  underneath  was  painted  in  large  characters,  GENERAL 
WASHINGTON. 

There  was,  as  usual,  a  crowd  of  folk  about  the  door,  but 
none  that  Rip  recollected.  The  very  character  of  the  people 
seemed  changed.  There  was  a  bus}*,  bustling,  disputatious 
tone  about  it,  instead  of  the  accustomed  phlegm  and  drowsy 
tranquillity.  He  looked  in  vain  for  the  sage  Nicholas  Vedcler, 
with  his  broad  face,  double  chin,  and  fair  long  pipe,  uttering 
clouds  of  tobacco  smoke,  instead  of  idle  speeches ;  or  Van 
Buinmel,  the  schoolmaster,  doling  forth  the  contents  of  an 
ancient  newspaper.  In  place  of  these,  a  lean  bilious-looking 


RIP    VAN   WINKLE.  37 

fellow,  with  his  pockets  full  of  handbills,  was  haranguing  vehe- 
mently about  rights  of  citizens  —  election  —  members  of  Con- 
gress—  liberty  —  Bunker's  hill  —  heroes  of  seventy-six  —  and 
other  words  which  were  a  perfect  Babylonish  jargon  to  the  be- 
wildered Van  Winkle. 

The  appearance  of  Rip,  with  his  long,  grizzled  beard,  his 
rusty  fowling-piece,  his  uncouth  dress,  and  an  army  of  women 
and  children  at  his  heels,  soon  attracted  the  attention  of  the 
tavern  politicians.  They  crowded  round  him,  eying  him  from 
head  to  foot,  with  great  curiosity.  The  orator  bustled  up  to 
him,  and  drawing  him  partly  aside,  inquired,  "on  which  side 
he  voted?"  Rip  stared  in  vacant  stupidity.  Another  short 
but  busy  little  fellow  pulled  him  by  the  arm,  and  rising  on 
tiptoe,  inquired  in  his  ear,  "  whether  he  was  Federal  or  Demo- 
crat." Rip  was  equally  at  a  loss  to  comprehend  the  question ; 
when  a  knowing,  self-important  old  gentleman,  in  a  sharp 
cocked  hat,  made  his  way  through  the  crowd,  putting  them 
to  the  right  and  left  with  his  elbows  as  he  passed,  and  plant- 
ing himself  before  Van  Winkle,  with  one  arm  a-kimbo,  the 
other  resting  on  his  cane,  his  keen  eyes  and  sharp  hat  penetrat- 
ing, as  it  were,  into  his  very  soul,  demanded  in  an  austere  tone, 
"  what  brought  him  to  the  election  with  a  gun  on  his  shoulder, 
and  a  mob  at  his  heels,  and  whether  he  meant  to  breed  a  riot  in 
the  village  ?  ' ' 

"  Alas  !  gentlemen,"  cried  Rip,  somewhat  dismayed,  "  I  am 
a  poor,  quiet  man,  a  native  of  the  place,  and  a  loyal  subject  of 
the  King,  God  bless  him  ! ' ' 

Here  a  general  shout  burst  from  the  bystanders  —  "  a  tory  ! 
a  tory  !  a  spy  !  a  refugee  !  hustle  him  !  away  with  him  !  " 

It  was  with  great  difficulty  that  the  self-important  man  in 
the  cocked  hat  restored  order ;  and  having  assumed  a  tenfold 
austerity  of  brow,  demanded  again  of  the  unknown  culprit, 
what  he  came  there  for,  and  whom  he  was  seeking.  The  poor 
man  humbly  assured  him  that  he  meant  no  harm,  but  merely 
came  there  in  search  of  some  of  his  neighbors,  who  used  to  keep 
about  the  tavern. 

"  Well  —  who  are  they  ?  —  name  them. ' ' 

Rip  bethought  himself  a  moment,  and  inquired,  ''Where's 
Nicholas  Vedder?  " 

There  was  a  silence  for  a  little  while,  when  an  old  man  re- 
plied, in  a  thin,  piping  voice,  "  Nicholas  Vedder?  wJhy,  he  is 
dead  and  gone  these  eighteen  years !  There  was  a  wooden 
tomb-stone  in  the  church-yard  that  used  to  tell  all  about  him, 
but  that's  rotten  and  gone  too." 


38  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

"  Where's  Brom  Butcher?  " 

"  Oh,  he  went  off  to  the  army  in  the  beginning  of  the  war ; 
some  say  he  was  killed  at  the  storming  of  Stony-Point  —  others 
say  he  was  drowned  in  the  squall,  at  the  foot  of  Antony's 
Nose.  I  don't  know  —  he  never  came  back  again." 

"Where's  Van  Bummel,  the  schoolmaster?" 

"  He  went  off  to  the  wars,  too ;  was  a  great  militia  general, 
and  is  now  in  Congress." 

Rip's  heart  died  away,  at  hearing  of  these  sad  changes  in  his 
home  and  friends,  and  finding  himself  thus  alone  in  the  world. 
Every  answer  puzzled  him,  too,  by  treating  of  such  enormous 
lapses  of  time,  and  of  matters  which  he  could  not  understand : 
war  —  Congress  —  Stony-Point !  —  he  had  no  courage  to  ask 
after  any  more  friends,  but  cried  out  in  despair,  "  Does  nobody 
here  know  Rip  Van  Winkle  ?  ' ' 

"Oh,  Rip  Van  Winkle  !  "  exclaimed  two  or  three.  "Oh  to 
be  sure !  that's  Rip  Van  Winkle  yonder,  leaning  against  the 
tree." 

Rip  looked,  and  beheld  a  precise  counterpart  of  himself  as  he 
went  up  the  mountain  ;  apparently  as  lazy  and  certainly  as 
ragged.  The  poor  fellow  was  now  completely  confounded. 
He  doubted  his  own  identity,  and  whether  he  was  himself  or 
another  man.  In  the  midst  of  his  bewilderment,  the  man  in 
the  cocked  hat  demanded  who  he  was,  and  what  was  his  name  ? 

"God  knows,"  exclaimed  he  at  his  wit's  end;  "I'm  not 
myself  —  I'm  somebody  else  —  that's  me  yonder  —  no  —  that's 
somebody  else,  got  into  my  shoes  —  I  was  myself  last  night, 
but  I  fell  asleep  on  the  mountain,  and  they've  changed  my  gun, 
and  every  thing's  changed,  and  I'm  changed,  and  I  can't  tell 
what's  my  name,  or  who  I  am !  " 

The  by-standers  began  now  to  look  at  each  other,  nod,  wink 
significantly,  and  tap  their  fingers  against  their  foreheads. 
There  was  a  whisper,  also,  about  securing  the  gun,  and  keep- 
ing the  old  fellow  from  doing  mischief;  at  the  very  suggestion 
of  which,  the  self-important  man  with  the  cocked  hat  retired 
with  some  precipitation.  At  this  critical  moment  a  fresh 
comely  woman  pressed  through  the  throng  to  get  a  peep  at  the 
gray-bearded  man.  She  had  a  chubby  child  in  her  arms, 
which,  frightened  at  his  looks,  began  to  cry.  "Hush,  Rip," 
cried  she,  "  hush,  you  little  fool ;  the  old  man  won't  hurt  you." 
The  name  of  the  child,  the  air  of  the  mother,  the  tone  of  her 
voice,  all  awakened  a  train  of  recollections  in  his  mind. 

"  What  is  your  name,  my  good  woman?  "  asked  he. 

"Judith  Gardenier." 


RIP   VAN    WINKLE.  39 

"  And  your  father's  name?  " 

"  Ah,  poor  man,  Rip  Van  Winkle  was  his  name  ;  but  it's  twenty 
years  since  he  went  away  from  home  with  his  gun,  and  never 
has  been  heard  of  since  —  his  dog  came  home  without  him  ;  but 
whether  he  shot  himself,  or  was  carried  away  by  the  Indians, 
nobody  can  tell.  I  was  then  but  a  little  girl." 

Rip  had  but  one  question  more  to  ask ;  but  he  put  it  with  a 
faltering  voice : 

"  Where's  your  mother?  " 

Oh,  she  too  had  died  but  a  short  time  since :  she  broke  a 
blood-vessel  in  a  fit  of  passion  at  a  New-England  pedler. 

There  was  a  drop  of  comfort,  at  least,  in  this  intelligence. 
The  honest  man  could  contain  himself  no  longer.  He  caught 
his  daughter  and  her  child  in  his  arms.  "  I  am  your  father !  " 
cried  he  —  "  Young  Rip  Van  Winkle  once  —  old  Rip  Van 
Winkle  now  !  — Does  nobody  know  poor  Rip  Van  Winkle  !  " 

All  stood  amazed,  until  an  old  woman,  tottering  out  from 
among  the  crowd,  put  her  hand  to  her  brow,  and  peering  under 
it  in  his  face  for  a  moment,  exclaimed,  u  Sure  enough!  it  is 
Rip  Van  Winkle  —  it  is  himself.  Welcome  home  again,  old 
neighbor  —  Why,  where  have  you  been  these  twenty  long 
years  ? ' ' 

Rip's  story  was  soon  told,  for  the  whole  twenty  years  had 
been  to  him  but  as  one  night.  The  neighbors  stared  when 
they  heard  it ;  some  were  seen  to  wink  at  each  other,  and  put 
their  tongues  in  their  cheeks ;  and  the  self-important  man  in 
the  cocked  hat,  who,  when  the  alarm  was  over,  had  returned  to 
the  field,  screwed  down  the  corners  of  his  mouth,  and  shook 
his  head  —  upon  which  there  was  a  general  shaking  of  the  head 
throughout  the  assemblage. 

It  was  determined,  however,  to  take  the  opinion  of  old  Peter 
Vanderdonk,  who  was  seen  slowly  advancing  up  the  road.  He 
was  a  descendant  of  the  historian  of  that  name,  who  wrote  one 
of  the  earliest  accounts  of  the  province.  Peter  was  the  most 
ancient  inhabitant  of  the  village,  and  well  versed  in  all  the 
wonderful  events  and  traditions  of  the  neighborhood.  He 
recollected  Rip  at  once,  and  corroborated  his  story  in  the  most 
satisfactory  manner.  He  assured  the  company  that  it  was  a 
fact,  handed  down  from  his  ancestor  the  historian,  that  the 
Kaatskill  mountains  had  always  been  haunted  by  strange  be- 
ings. That  it  was  affirmed  that  the  great  Hendrick  Hudson, 
the  first  discoverer  of  the  river  and  country,  kept  a  kind  of 
vigil  there  every  twenty  years,  with  his  crew  of  the  Half-moon, 
being  permitted  in  this  way  to  revisit  the  scenes  of  his  enter' 


40  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

prise,  and  keep  a  guardian  eye  upon  the  river  and  the  great 
city  called  by  his  name.  That  his  father  had  once  seen  them 
in  their  old  Dutch  dresses  playing  at  nine-pins  in  a  hollow  of 
the  mountain  ;  and  that  he  himself  had  heard,  one  summer 
afternoon,  the  sound  of  their  balls,  like  distant  peals  of 
thunder. 

To  make  a  long  story  short,  the  company  broke  up,  and 
returned  to  the  more  important  concerns  of  the  election.  Rip's 
daughter  took  him  home  to  live  with  her ;  she  had  a  snug,  well- 
furnished  house,  and  a  stout  cheery  farmer  for  a  husband, 
whom  Rip  recollected  for  one  of  the  urchins  that  used  to  climb 
upon  his  back.  As  to  Rip's  son  and  heir,  who  was  the  ditto  of 
himself,  seen  leaning  against  the  tree,  he  was  employed  to 
work  on  the  farm,  but  evinced  an  hereditary  disposition  to  at- 
tend to  any  thing  else  but  his  business. 

Rip  now  resumed  his  old  walks  and  habits ,  he  soon  found 
many  of  his  former  cronies,  though  all  rather  the  worse  for  the 
wear  and  tear  of  time;  and  preferred  making  friends  among 
the  rising  generation,  with  whom  he  soon  grew  into  great  favor. 

Having  nothing  to  do  at  home,  and  being  arrived  at  that 
happy  age  when  a  man  can  be  idle  with  impunity,  he  toolf 
his  place  once  more  on  the  bench,  at  the  inn  door,  and  was 
reverenced  as  one  of  the  patriarchs  of  the  village,  and  a  chron- 
icle of  the  old  times  "before  the  war."  It  was  some  time 
before  he  could  get  into  the  regular  track  of  gossip,  or  could 
be  made  to  comprehend  the  strange  events  that  had  taken  place 
during  his  torpor.  How  that  there  had  been  a  revolutionary 
war  —  that  the  country  had  thrown  off  the  yoke  of  old  England 
—  and  that,  instead  of  being  a  subject  of  his  majesty  George 
the  Third,  he  was  now  a  free  citizen  of  the  United  States.  Rip, 
in  fact,  was  no  politician ;  the  changes  of  states  and  empires 
made  but  little  impression  on  him ;  but  there  was  one  species 
of  despotism  under  which  he  had  long  groaned,  and  that  was  — 
petticoat  government.  Happily,  that  was  at  an  end ;  he  had 
got  his  neck  out  of  the  yoke  of  matrimony,  and  could  go  in  and 
out  whenever  he  pleased,  without  dreading  the  tyranny  of  Dame 
Van  Winkle.  Whenever  her  name  was  mentioned,  however,  he 
shook  his  head,  shrugged  his  shoulders,  and  cast  up  his  eyes; 
which  might  pass  either  for  an  expression  of  resignation  to  his 
fate,  or  joy  at  his  deliverance. 

He  used  to  tell  his  story  to  every  stranger  that  arrived  at  Mr. 
Doolittle's  hotel.  He  was  observed,  at  first,  to  vary  on  some 
points  every  time  he  told  it,  which  was  doubtless  owing  to  his 
having  so  recently  awaked.  It  at  last  settled  down  precisely 


ENGLISH    WRITERS   ON  AMERICA.  41 

to  the  tale  I  have  related,  and  not  a  man,  woman,  or  child  in 
the  neighborhood,  but  knew  it  by  heart.  Some  always  pre- 
tended to  doubt  the  reality  of  it,  and  insisted  that  Rip  had  been 
out  of  his  head,  and  that  this  was  one  point  on  which  he  always 
remained  flighty.  The  old  Dutch  inhabitants,  however,  almost 
universally  gave  it  full  credit.  Even  to  this  day,  they  never 
hear  a  thunder- storm  of  a  summer  afternoon  about  the  Kaats- 
kill,  but  they  say  Hendrick  Hudson  and  his  crew  are  at  their 
game  of  nine-pins :  and  it  is  a  common  wish  of  all  henpecked 
husbands  in  the  neighborhood,  when  life  hangs  heavy  on  their 
hands,  that  they  might  have  a  quieting  draught  out  of  Rip  Van 
Winkle's  flagon. 

NOTE.  —  The  foregoing  tale,  one  would  suspect,  had  been  suggested  to  Mr.  Knicker- 
bocker by  a  little  German  superstition  about  the  Emperor  Frederick  der  Rothbart  and 
the  Kypphauser  mountain;  the  subjoined  note,  however,  which  he  had  appended  to  the 
tale,  shows  that  it  is  an  absolute  fact,  narrated  with  his  usual  fidelity. 

"  The  story  of  Rip  Van  Winkle  may  seem  incredible  to  many,  but  nevertheless  I 
give  it  my  full  belief,  for  I  know  the  vicinity  of  our  old  Dutch  settlements  to  have  been 
very  subject  to  marvellous  events  and  appearances.  Indeed,  I  have  heard  many  stranger 
stories  than  this,  in  the  villages  along  the  Hudson,  all  of  which  were  too  well  authenti- 
cated to  admit  of  a  doubt.  I  have  even  talked  with  Rip  Van  Winkle  myself,  who,  when 
last  I  saw  him,  was  a  very  venerable  old  man,  and  so  perfectly  rational  and  consistent  on 
every  other  point,  that  I  think  no  conscientious  person  could  refuse  to  take  this  into  the 
bargain;  nay,  I  have  seen  a  certificate  on  the  subject  taken  before  a  country  justice,  and 
signed  with  a  cross,  in  the  justice's  own  handwriting.  The  story,  therefore,  is  beyond 
the  possibility  of  doubt.1 

D.  K." 


ENGLISH   WRITERS   ON   AMERICA. 

"  Methinks  I  see  in  my  mind  a  noble  and  puissant  nation,  rousing  herself  like  a  strong 
man  after  sleep,  and  shaking  her  invincible  locks;  methinks  I  see  her  as  an  eagle,  mew- 
ing her  mighty  youth,  and  kindling  her  endazzled  eyes  at  the  full  mid-day  beam."  — 
MILTON  ON  THE  LIBERTY  OP  THE  PRESS. 

IT  is  with  feelings  of  deep  regret  that  I  observe  the  literary 
animosity  daily  growing  up  between  England  and  America. 
Great  curiosity  has  been  awakened  of  late  with  respect  to  the 
United  States,  and  the  London  press  has  teemed  with  volumes 
of  travels  through  the  Republic ;  but  they  seem  intended  to 
diffuse  error  rather  than  knowledge ;  and  so  successful  have 
they  been,  that,  notwithstanding  the  constant  intercourse  be- 
tween the  nations,  there  is  no  people  concerning  whom  the 
great  mass  of  the  British  public  have  less  pure  information,  or 
entertain  more  numerous  prejudices. 

i  Appendix,  Note  1. 


42  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

English  travellers  are  the  best  and  the  worst  in  the  world. 
Where  no  motives  of  pride  or  interest  intervene,  none  can  equal 
them  for  profound  and  philosophical  views  of  society,  or  faith- 
ful and  graphical  descriptions  of  external  objects ;  but  when 
either  the  interest  or  reputation  of  their  own  country  comes  in 
collision  with  that  of  another,  they  go  to  the  opposite  extreme, 
and  forget  their  usual  probity  and  candor,  in  the  indulgence  of 
splenetic  remark,  and  an  illiberal  spirit  of  ridicule. 

Hence,  their  travels  are  more  honest  and  accurate,  the  more 
remote  the  country  described.  I  would  place  implicit  confi- 
dence in  an  Englishman's  description  of  the  regions  beyond  the 
cataracts  of  the  Nile ;  of  unknown  islands  in  the  Yellow  Sea ; 
of  the  interior  of  India  ;  or  of  any  other  tract  which  other  trav- 
ellers might  be  apt  to  picture  out  with  the  illusions  of  their 
fancies.  But  I  would  cautiously  receive  his  account  of  his 
immediate  neighbors,  and  of  those  nations  with  which  he  is 
in  habits  of  most  frequent  intercourse.  However  I  might  be 
disposed  to  trust  his  probity,  I  dare  not  trust  his  prejudices. 

It  has  also  been  the  peculiar  lot  of  our  country  to  be  visited 
by  the  worst  kind  of  English  travellers.  While  men  of  philo- 
sophical spirit  and  cultivated  minds  have  been  sent  from  Eng- 
land to  ransack  the  poles,  to  penetrate  the  deserts,  and  to  study 
the  manners  and  customs  of  barbarous  nations,  with  which  she 
can  have  no  permanent  intercourse  of  profit  or  pleasure  ;  it  has 
been  left  to  the  broken-down  tradesman,  the  scheming  adven- 
turer, the  wandering  mechanic,  the  Manchester  and  Birming- 
ham agent,  to  be  her  oracles  respecting  America.  From  such 
sources  she  is  content  to  receive  her  information  respecting  a 
country  in  a  singular  state  of  moral  and  physical  development ; 
a  country  in  which  one  of  the  greatest  political  experiments  in 
the  history  of  the  world  is  now  performing,  and  which  presents 
the  most  profound  and  momentous  studies  to  the  statesman 
and  the  philosopher. 

That  such  men  should  give  prejudicial  accounts  of  America  is 
1  not  a  matter  of  surprise.  The  themes  it  offers  for  contempla- 
tion are  too  vast  and  elevated  for  their  capacities.  The  national 
character  is  yet  in  a  state  of  fermentation  :  it  may  have  its  froth- 
iness  and  sediment,  but  its  ingredients  are  sound  and  whole- 
some :  it  has  already  given  proofs  of  powerful  and  generous 
qualities  ;  and  the  whole  promises  to  settle  clown  into  something 
substantially  excellent.  But  the  causes  which  are  operating  to 
strengthen  and  ennoble  it,  and  its  daily  indications  of  admirable 
properties,  are  all  lost  upon  these  purblind  observers ;  who  are 
only  affected  by  the  little  asperities  incident  to  its  present  sit- 


ENGLISH   WRITERS   ON  AMERICA.  43 

nation.  They  are  capable  of  judging  only  of  the  surface  of 
things  ;  of  those  matters  which  come  in  contact  with  their  pri- 
vate interests  and  personal  gratifications.  They  miss  some  of 
the  snug  conveniences  and  petty  comforts  which  belong  to  an 
old,  highly-finished,  and  over-populous  state  of  society  ;  where 
the  ranks  of  useful  labor  are  crowded,  and  many  earn  a  painful 
and  servile  subsistence,  by  studying  the  very  caprices  of  appe- 
tite and  self-indulgence.  These  minor  comforts,  however,  are 
all-important  in  the  estimation  of  narrow  minds  ;  which  either 
do  not  perceive,  or  will  not  acknowledge,  that  they  are  more 
than  counterbalanced  among  us,  by  great  and  generally  diffused 
blessings. 

They  ma}^,  perhaps,  have  been  disappointed  .in  some  unrea- 
sonable expectation  of  sudden  gain.  They  may  have  pictured 
America  to  themselves  an  El  Dorado,  where  gold  and  silver 
abounded,  and  the  natives  were  lacking  in  sagacity  ;  and  where 
they  were  to  become  strangely  and  suddenly  rich,  in  some  un- 
foreseen but  easy  manner.  The  same  weakness  of  mind  that 
indulges  absurd  expectations,  produces  petulance  in  disappoint- 
ment. Such  persons  become  embittered  against  the  country  on 
finding  that  there,  as  everywhere  else,  a  man  must  sow  before 
he  can  reap  ;  must  win  wealth  by  industry  and  talent ;  and  must 
contend  with  the  common  difficulties  of  nature,  and  the  shrewd- 
ness of  an  intelligent  and  enterprising  people. 

Perhaps,  through  mistaken  or  ill-directed  hospitality,  or  from 
the  prompt  disposition  to  cheer  and  countenance  the  stranger, 
prevalent  among  my  countrymen,  they  may  have  been  treated 
with  unwonted  respect  in  America ;  and,  having  been  accus- 
tomed all  their  lives  to  consider  themselves  below  the  surface 
of  good  society,  and  brought  up  in  a  servile  feeling  of  inferior- 
ity, they  become  arrogant  on  the  common  boon  of  civility  ;  they 
attribute  to  the  lowliness  of  others  their  own  elevation  ;  and 
underrate  a  society  where  there  are  no  artificial  distinctions, 
and  where  by  any  chance  such  individuals  as  themselves  can 
rise  to  consequence. 

One  would  suppose,  however,  that  information  coming  from 
such  sources,  on  a  subject  where  the  truth  is  so  desirable,  would 
be  received  with  caution  by  the  censors  of  the  press ;  that  the 
motives  of  these  men,  their  veracity,  their  opportunities  of  in- 
quiry and  observation,  and  their  capacities  for  judging  correctly, 
would  be  rigorously  scrutinized,  before  their  evidence  was  ad- 
mitted, in  such  sweeping  extent  against  a  kindred  nation.  The 
very  reverse,  however,  is  the  case,  and  it  furnishes  a  striking 
instance  of  human  inconsistency.  Nothing  can  surpass  the 


44  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

vigilance  with  which  English  critics  will  examine  the  credibility 
of  the  traveller  who  publishes  an  account  of  some  distant,  and 
comparatively  unimportant,  country.  How  warily  will  they 
compare  the  measurements  of  a  pyramid,  or  the  description  of 
a  ruin  ;  and  how  sternly  will  they  censure  any  inaccuracy  in 
these  contributions  of  merely  curious  knowledge  ;  while  they 
will  receive,  with  eagerness  and  unhesitating  faith,  the  gross 
misrepresentations  of  coarse  and  obscure  writers,  concerning  a 
country  with  which  their  own  is  placed  in  the  most  important 
and  delicate  relations.  Nay,  they  will  even  make  these  apocry- 
phal volumes  text-books,  on  which  to  enlarge,  with  a  zeal  and 
an  ability  worthy  of  a  more  generous  cause. 

I  shall  not,  however,  dwell  on  this  irksome  and  hackneyed 
topic ;  nor  should  I  have  adverted  to  it,  but  for  the  undue  in- 
terest apparently  taken  in  it  by  my  countrymen,  and  certain 
injurious  effects  which  I  apprehend  it  might  produce  upon  the 
national  feeling.  We  attach  too  much  consequence  to  these 
attacks.  They  cannot  do  us  any  essential  injury.  The  tissue 
of  misrepresentations  attempted  to  be  woven  round  us,  are  like 
cobwebs  woven  round  the  limbs  of  an  infant  giant.  Our  coun- 
try continually  outgrows  them.  One  falsehood  after  another 
falls  off  of  itself.  We  have  but  to  live  on,  and  every  day  we 
live  a  whole  volume  of  refutation.  All  the  writers  of  England 
united,  if  we  could  for  a  moment  suppose  their  great  minds 
stooping  to  so  unworthy  a  combination,  could  not  conceal  our 
rapidly  growing  importance  and  matchless  prosperity.  They 
could  not  conceal  that  these  are  owing,  not  merely  to  physical 
and  local,  but  also  to  moral  causes  ;  —  to  the  political  liberty, 
the  general  diffusion  of  knowledge,  the  prevalence  of  sound, 
moral,  and  religious  principles,  which  give  force  and  sustained 
energy  to  the  character  of  a  people ;  and  which,  in  fact,  have 
been  the  acknowledged  and  wonderful  supporters  of  their  own 
national  power  and  glory. 

But  why  are  we  so  exquisitely  alive  to  the  aspersions  of 
England  ?  Why  do  we  suffer  ourselves  to  be  so  affected  by  the 
contumely  she  has  endeavored  to  cast  upon  us?  It  is  not  in 
the  opinion  of  England  alone  that  honor  lives,  and  reputation 
has  its  being.  The  world  at  large  is  the  arbiter  of  a  nation's 
fame :  with  its  thousand  eyes  it  witnesses  a  nation's  deeds,  and 
from  their  collective  testimony  is  national  glory  or  national 
disgrace  established. 

For  ourselves,  therefore,  it  is  comparatively  of  but  little 
importance  whether  England  does  us  justice  or  not ;  it  is,  per- 
haps, of  far  more  importance  to  herself.  She  is  instilling  anger 


ENGLISH   WRITERS  ON  AMERICA.  45 

and  resentment  into  the  bosom  of  a  youthful  nation,  to  grow 
with  its  growth,  and  strengthen  with  its  strength.  If  in  Amer- 
ica, as  some  of  her  writers  are  laboring  to  convince  her,  she  is 
hereafter  to  find  an  invidious  rival  and  a  gigantic  foe,  she  may 
thank  those  very  writers  for  having  provoked  rivalship,  and  irri- 
tated hostility.  Every  one  knows  the  all-pervading  influence 
of  literature  at  the  present  day,  and  how  much  the  opinions  and 
passions  of  mankind  are  under  its  control.  The  mere  contests 
of  the  sword  are  temporary  ;  their  wounds  are  but  in  the  flesh, 
and  it  is  the  pride  of  the  generous  to  forgive  and  forget  them ; 
but  the  slanders  of  the  pen  pierce  to  the  heart ;  they  rankle 
longest  iii  the  noblest  spirits ;  they  dwell  ever  present  in  the 
mind,  and  render  it  morbidly  sensitive  to  the  most  trifling  collis- 
ion. It  is  but  seldom  that  any  one  overt  act  produces  hos- 
tilities between  two  nations ;  there  exists,  most  commonly,  a 
previous  jealousy  and  ill-will,  a  predisposition  to  take  offence. 
Trace  these  to  their  cause,  and  how  often  will  they  be  found  to 
originate  in  the  mischievous  effusions  of  mercenary  writers ; 
who,  secure  in  their  closets,  and  for  ignominious  bread,  concoct 
and  circulate  the  venom  that  is  to  inflame  the  generous  and  the 
brave. 

I  am  not  laying  too  much  stress  upon  this  point ;  for  it 
applies  most  emphatically  to  our  particular  case.  Over  no 
nation  does  the  press  hold  a  more  absolute  control  than  over 
the  people  of  America ;  for  the  universal  education  of  the 
poorest  classes  makes  every  individual  a  reader.  There  is 
nothing  published  in  England  on  the  subject  of  our  country, 
that  does  not  circulate  through  ever}7  part  of  it.  There  is  not 
a  calumny  dropt  from  an  English  pen,  nor  an  unworthy  sarcasm 
uttered  by  an  English  statesman,  that  does  not  go  to  blight 
good-will,  and  add  to  the  mass  of  latent  resentment.  Possess- 
ing then,  as  England  does,  the  fountain-head  whence  the  litera- 
ture of  the  language  flows,  how  completely  is  it  in  her  power, 
and  how  truly  is  it  her  duty,  to  make  it  the  medium  of 
amiable  and  magnanimous  feeling  —  a  stream  where  the  two 
nations  might  meet  together,  and  drink  in  peace  and  kindness. 
Should  she,  however,  persist  in  turning  it  to  waters  of  bitterness, 
the  time  may  come  when  she  may  repent  her  folly.  The  pres- 
ent friendship  of  America  may  be  of  but  little  moment  to  her ; 
but  the  future  destinies  of  that  country  do  not  admit  of  a  doubt : 
over  those  of  England,  there  lower  some  shadows  of  uncer- 
tainty. Should,  then,  a  day  of  gloom  arrive  —  should  these 
reverses  overtake  her  from  which  the  proudest  empires  have 
not  been  exempt  —  she  may  look  back  with  regret  at  her  inf atu~ 


46  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

ation,  in  repulsing  from  her  side  a  nation  she  might  have 
grappled  to  her  bosom,  and  thus  destroying  her  only  chance 
for  real  friendship  beyond  the  boundaries  of  her  own  dominions. 

There  is  a  general  impression  in  England,  that  the  people  of 
the  United  States  are  inimical  to  the  parent  country.  It  is  one 
of  the  errors  which  have  been  diligently  propagated  by  designing 
writers.  There  is,  doubtless,  considerable  political  hostility,  and 
a  general  soreness  at  the  illiberality  of  the  English  press  ;  but, 
generally  speaking,  the  prepossessions  of  the  people  are 
strongly  in  favor  of  England.  Indeed,  at  one  time  they 
amounted,  in  many  parts  of  the  Union,  to  an  absurd  degree  of 
bigotry.  The  bare  name  of  Englishman  was  a  passport  to  the 
confidence  and  hospitality  of  every  family,  and  too  often  gave 
a  transient  currency  to  the  worthless  and  the  ungrateful. 
Throughout  the  wuntry,  there  was  something  of  enthusiasm 
connected  with  the  idea  of  England.  We  looked  to  it  with  a 
hallowed  feeling  of  tenderness  and  veneration,  as  the  land  of 
our  forefathers  — •  the  august  repository  of  the  monuments  and 
antiquities  of  our  race  —  the  birth-place  and  mausoleum  of  the 
sages  and  heroes  of  our  paternal  history.  After  our  own  coun- 
try, there  was  none  in  whose  glory  we  more  delighted  —  none 
whose  good  opinion  we  were  more  anxious  to  possess  —  none 
toward  which  our  hearts  yearned  with  such  throbbings  of  warm 
consanguinity.  Even  during  the  late  war,  whenever  there  was 
the  least  opportunity  for  kind  feelings  to  spring  forth,  it  was 
the  delight" of  the  generous  spirits  of  our  country  to  show,  that 
in  the  midst  of  hostilities,  they  still  kept  alive  the  sparks  of 
future  friendship. 

Is  all  this  to  be  at  an  end  ?  Is  this  golden  band  of  kindred 
sympathies,  so  rare  between  nations,  to  be  broken  forever?  — 
Perhaps  it  is  for  the  best  —  it  may  dispel  an  illusion  which 
might  have  kept  us  in  mental  vassalage  ;  which  might  have  in- 
terfered occasionally  with  our  true  interests,  and  prevented 
the  growth  of  proper  national  pride.  But  it  is  hard  to  give  up 
the  kindred  tie  !  —  and  there  are  feelings  dearer  than  interest  — 
closer  to  the  heart  than  pride  —  that  will  still  make  us  cast  back 
a  look  of  regret  as  we  wander  farther  and  farther  from  the 
paternal  roof,  and  lament  the  waywardness  of  the  parent  that 
would  repel  the  affections  of  the  child. 

Short-sighted  and  injudicious,  however,  as  the  conduct  of 
England  may  be  in  this  system  of  aspersion,  recrimination  on 
our  part  would  be  equally  ill-judged.  I  speak  not  of  a  prompt 
and  spirited  vindication  of  our  country,  nor  the  keenest  castiga- 
tion  of  her  slanderers  —  but  I  allude  to  a  disposition  to  retaliate 


ENGLISH  WRITERS  ON  AMERICA.  47 

in  kind,  to  retort  sarcasm  and  inspire  prejudice,  which  seems 
to  be  spreading  widely  among  our  writers.  Let  us  guard  par- 
ticularly against  such  a  temper ;  for  it  would  double  the  evil, 
instead  of  redressing  the  wrong.  Nothing  is  so  easy  and  in- 
viting as  the  retort  of  abuse  and  sarcasm ;  but  it  is  a  paltry 
and  unprofitable  contest.  It  is  the  alternative  of  a  morbid 
mind,  fretted  into  petulance,  rather  than  warmed  into  indigna- 
tion. If  England  is  willing  to  permit  the  mean  jealousies  of 
trade,  or  the  rancorous  animosities  of  politics,  to  deprave  the 
integrity  of  her  press,  and  poison  the  fountain  of  public  opin- 
ion, let  us  beware  of  her  example.  She  may  deem  it  her  inter- 
est to  diffuse  error,  and  engender  antipathy,  for  the  purpose  of 
checking  emigration  ;  we  have  no  purpose  of  the  kind  to  serve. 
Neither  have  we  any  spirit  of  national  jealousy  to  gratify  ;  for 
as  yet,  in  all  our  rivalships  with  England,  we  are  the  rising  and 
the  gaining  party.  There  can  be  no  end  to  answer,  therefore, 
but  the  gratification  of  resentment  —  a  mere  spirit  of  retalia- 
tion ;  and  even  that  is  impotent.  Our  retorts  are  never  repub- 
lished  in  England ;  they  fall  short,  therefore,  of  their  aim ;  but 
they  foster  a  querulous  and  peevish  temper  among  our  writers  ; 
they  sour  the  sweet  flow  of  our  early  literature,  and  sow  thorns 
and  brambles  among  its  blossoms.  What  is  still  worse,  they 
circulate  through  our  own  country,  and,  as  far  as  they  have 
effect,  excite  virulent  national  prejudices.  This  last  is  the  evil 
most  especially  to  be  deprecated.  Governed,  as  we  are,  entirely 
by  public  opinion,  the  utmost  care  should  be  taken  to  preserve 
the  purity  of  the  public  mind.  Knowledge  is  power,  and  truth 
is  knowledge ;  whoever,  therefore,  knowingly  propagates  a 
prejudice,  wilfully  saps  the  foundation  of  his  country's  strength. 

The  members  of  a  republic,  above  all  other  men,  should  be 
candid  and  dispassionate.  They  are,  individually,  portions  of 
the  sovereign  mind  and  sovereign  will,  and  should  be  enabled 
to  come  to  all  questions  of  national  concern  with  calm  and  un- 
biassed judgments.  From  the  peculiar  nature  of  our  relations 
with  England,  we  must  have  more  frequent  questions  of  a  difficult 
and  delicate  character  with  her,  than  with  any  other  nation;  ques- 
tions that  affect  the  most  acute  and  excitable  feelings  :  and  as, 
in  the  adjusting  of  these,  our  national  measures  must  ultimately 
be  determined  by  popular  sentiment,  we  cannot  be  too  anxiously 
attentive  to  purify  it  from  all  latent  passion  or  prepossession. 

Opening  too,  as  we  do,  an  asylum  for  strangers  from  every 
portion  of  the  earth,  we  should  receive  all  with  impartiality. 
It  should  be  our  pride  to  exhibit  an  example  of  one  nation,  at 
least,  destitute  of  national  antipathies,  and  exercising,  not 


48  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

merely  the  overt  acts  of  hospitality,  but  those  more  rare  and 
noble  courtesies  which  spring  from  liberality  of  opinion. 

What  have  we  to  do  with  national  prejudices  ?  They  are  the 
inveterate  diseases  of  old  countries,  contracted  in  rude  and 
ignorant  ages,  when  nations  knew  but  little  of  each  other,  and 
looked  beyond  their  own  boundaries  with  distrust  and  hostility. 
We,  on  the  contrary,  have  sprung  into  national  existence  in  an 
enlightened  and  philosophic  age,  when  the  different  parts  of  the 
habitable  world,  and  the  various  branches  of  the  human  family, 
have  been  indefatigably  studied  and  made  known  to  each  other  ; 
and  we  forego  the  advantages  of  our  birth,  if  we  do  not  shake 
off  the  national  prejudices,  as  we  would  the  local  superstitions, 
of  the  old  world. 

But  above  all,  let  us  not  be  influenced  by  any  angry  feelings, 
so  far  as  to  shut  our  eyes  to  the  perception  of  what  is  really 
excellent  and  amiable  in  the  English  character.  We  are  a 
young  people,  necessarily  an  imitative  one,  and  must  take  our 
examples  and  models,  in  a  great  degree,  from  the  existing  na- 
tions of  Europe.  There  is  no  country  more  worthy  of  our 
study  than  England.  The  spirit  of  her  constitution  is  most 
analogous  to  ours.  The  manners  of  her  people  —  their  intellec- 
tual activity  —  their  freedom  of  opinion  —  their  habits  of  think- 
ing on  those  subjects  which  concern  the  dearest  interests  and 
most  sacred  charities  of  private  life,  are  all  congenial  to  the 
American  character  ;  and,  in  fact,  are  all  intrinsically  excel- 
lent :  for  it  is  in  the  moral  feeling  of  the  people  that  the  deep 
foundations  of  British  prosperity  are  laid ;  and  however  the 
superstructure  may  be  time-worn,  or  overrun  by  abuses,  there 
must  be  something  solid  in  the  basis,  admirable  in  the  materials, 
and  stable  in  the  structure  of  an  edifice  that  so  long  has  tow- 
ered unshaken  amidst  the  tempests  of  the  world. 

Let  it  be  the  pride  of  our  writers,  therefore,  discarding  all 
feelings  of  irritation,  and  disdaining  to  retaliate  the  illiberal- 
ity  of  British  authors,  to  speak  of  the  English  nation  without 
prejudice,  and  with  determined  candor.  While  they  rebuke  the 
indiscriminating  bigotry  with  which  some  of  our  countrymen 
admire  and  imitate  every  thing  English,  merely  because  it  is 
English,  let  them  frankly  point  out  what  is  really  worthy  of 
approbation.  We  may  thus  place  England  before  us  as  a  per- 
petual volume  of  reference,  wherein  are  recorded  sound  deduc- 
tions from  ages  of  experience ;  and  while  we  avoid  the  errors 
and  absurdities  which  may  have  crept  into  the  page,  we  may 
draw  thence  golden  maxims  of  practical  wisdom,  wherewith  to 
strengthen  and  to  embellish  our  national  character. 


RURAL   LIFE  IN  ENGLAND.  49 


RURAL   LIFE   IN   ENGLAND. 

Oh !  friendly  to  the  best  pursuits  of  man, 
Friendly  to  thought,  to  virtue,  and  to  peace, 
Domestic  life  in  rural  pleasures  past!  — COWPER. 

THE  stranger  who  would  form  a  correct  opinion  of  the  Eng- 
lish character,  must  not  confine  his  observations  to  the  metrop- 
olis. He  must  go  forth  into  the  country ;  he  must  sojourn  in 
villages  and  hamlets  ;  he  must  visit  castles,  villas,  farm-houses, 
cottages ;  he  must  wander  through  parks  and  gardens  ;  along 
hedges  and  green  lanes  ;  he  must  loiter  about  country  churches  ; 
attend  wakes  and  fairs,  and  other  rural  festivals  ;  and  cope 
with  the  people  in  all  their  conditions,  and  all  their  habits  and 
humors. 

In  some  countries  the  large  cities  absorb  the  wealth  and 
fashion  of  the  nation  ;  they  are  the  only  fixed  abodes  of  elegant 
and  intelligent  society,  and  the  country  is  inhabited  almost 
entirely  by  boorish  peasantry.  In  England,  on  the  contrary, 
the  metropolis  is  a  mere  gathering  place,  or  general  rendezvous, 
of  the  polite  classes,  where  they  devote  a  small  portion  of  the 
year  to  a  hurry  of  gayety  and  dissipation,  and  having  indulged 
this  kind  of  carnival,  return  again  to  the  apparently  more  con- 
genial habits  of  rural  life.  The  various  orders  of  society  are 
therefore  diffused  over  the  whole  surface  of  the  kingdom,  and 
the  most  retired  neighborhoods  afford  specimens  of  the  different 
ranks. 

The  English,  in  fact,  are  strongly  gifted  with  the  rural  feel- 
ing. They  possess  a  quick  sensibility  to  the  beauties  of  na- 
ture, and  a  keen  relish  for  the  pleasures  and  employments  of 
the  country.  This  passion  seems  inherent  in  them.  Even  the 
inhabitants  of  cities,  born  and  brought  up  among  brick  walls 
and  bustling  streets,  enter  with  facility  into  rural  habits,  and 
evince  a  tact  for  rural  occupation.  The  merchant  has  his  snug 
retreat  in  the  vicinity  of  the  metropolis,  where  he  often  dis- 
plays as  much  pride  and  zeal  in  the  cultivation  of  his  flower- 
garden,  and  the  maturing  of  his  fruits,  as  he  does  in  the  conduct 
of  his  business,  and  the  success  of  a  commercial  enterprise. 
Even  those  less  fortunate  individuals,  who  are  doomed  to  pass 
their  lives  in  the  midst  of  din  and  traffic,  contrive  to  have  some- 
thing that  shall  remind  them  of  the  green  aspect  of  nature.  In 
the  most  dark  and  dingy  quarters  of  the  city,  the  drawing- 
room  window  resembles  frequently  a  bank  of  flowers;  every 


50  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

spot  capable  of  vegetation  has  its  grass-plot  and  flower-bed ; 
and  every  square  its  mimic  park,  laid  out  with  picturesque  taste, 
and  gleaming  with  refreshing  verdure. 

Those  who  see  the  Englishman  only  in  town,  are  apt  to  form 
an  unfavorable  opinion  of  his  social  character.  He  is  either 
absorbed  in  business,  or  distracted  by  the  thousand  engage- 
ments that  dissipate  time,  thought,  and  feeling,  in  this  huge 
metropolis.  He  has,  therefore,  too  commonly,  a  look  of  hurry 
and  abstraction.  Wherever  he  happens  to  be,  he  is  on  the 
point  of  going  somewhere  else  ;  at  the  moment  he  is  talking  on 
one  subject,  his  mind  is  wandering  to  another ;  and  while  pay- 
ing a  friendly  visit,  he  is  calculating  how  he  shall  economize 
time  so  as  to  pay  the  other  visits  allotted  in  the  morning.  An 
immense  metropolis,  like  London,  is  calculated  to  make  men 
selfish  and  uninteresting.  In  their  casual  and  transient  meet- 
ings, they  can  but  deal  briefly  in  commonplaces.  They  present 
but  the  cold  superficies  of  character  —  its  rich  and  genial  qual- 
ities have  no  time  to  be  warmed  into  a  flow. 

It  is  in  the  country  that  the  Englishman  gives  scope  to  his 
natural  feelings.  He  breaks  loose  gladly  from  the  cold  formal- 
ities and  negative  civilities  of  town,  throws  off  his  habits  of  shy 
reserve,  and  becomes  joyous  and  free-hearted.  He  manages  to 
collect  round  him  all  the  conveniences  and  elegancies  of  polite 
life,  and  to  banish  its  restraints.  His  country-seat  abounds 
with  every  requisite,  either  for  studious  retirement,  tasteful 
gratification,  or  rural  exercise.  Books,  paintings,  music,  horses, 
dogs,  and  sporting  implements  of  all  kinds,  are  at  hand.  He 
puts  no  constraint,  either  upon  his  guests  or  himself,  but,  in  the 
true  spirit  of  hospitality,  provides  the  means  of  enjoyment,  and 
leaves  every  one  to  partake  according  to  his  inclination. 

The  taste  of  the  English  in  the  cultivation  of  laud,  and  in 
what  is  called  landscape  gardening,  is  unrivalled.  They  have 
studied  Nature  intently,  and  discover  an  exquisite  sense  of 
her  beautiful  forms  and  harmonious  combinations.  Those 
charms  which,  in  other  countries,  she  lavishes  in  wild  soli- 
tudes, are  here  assembled  round  the  haunts  of  domestic  life. 
They  seem  to  have  caught  her  coy  and  furtive  graces,  and 
spread  them,  like  witchery,  about  their  rural  abodes. 

Nothing  can  be  more  imposing  than  the  magnificence  of  Eng- 
lish park  scenery.  Vast  lawns  that  extend  like  sheets  of  vivid 
green,  with  here  and  there  clumps  of  gigantic  trees,  heaping  up 
rich  piles  of  foliage.  The  solemn  pomp  of  groves  and  wood- 
land glades,  with  the  deer  trooping  in  silent  herds  across  them ; 
the  hare,  bounding  away  to  the  covert ;  or  the  pheasant,  sud' 


RURAL   LIFE  IN  ENGLAND.  51 

denly  bursting  upon  the  wing.  The  brook,  taught  to  wind  in 
natural  meanderings,  or  expand  into  a  glass}'  lake  —  the  seques- 
tered pool,  reflecting  the  quivering  trees,  with  the  yellow  leaf 
sleeping  on  its  bosom,  and  the  trout  roaming  fearlessly  about 
its  limpid  waters  :  while  some  rustic  temple,  or  sylvan  statue, 
grown  green  and  dank  with  age,  gives  an  air  of  classic  sanctity 
to  the  seclusion. 

These  are  but  a  few  of  the  features  of  park  scenery ;  but 
what  most  delights  me,  is  the  creative  talent  with  which  the 
English  decorate  the  unostentatious  abodes  of  middle  life. 
The  rudest  habitation,  the  most  unpromising  and  scanty  por- 
tion of  land,  in  the  hands  of  an  Englishman  of  taste,  becomes 
a  little  paradise.  With  a  nicely  discriminating  eye,  he  seizes 
at  once  upon  its  capabilities,  and  pictures  in  his  mind  the  future 
landscape.  The  sterile  spot  grows  into  loveliness  under  his 
hand ;  and  yet  the  operations  of  art  which  produce  the  effect 
are  scarcely  to  be  perceived.  The  cherishing  and  training  of 
some  trees  ;  the  cautious  pruning  of  others  ;  the  nice  distribution 
of  flowers  and  plants  of  tender  and  graceful  foliage  ;  the  intro- 
duction of  a  green  slope  of  velvet  turf ;  the  partial  opening  to  a 
peep  of  blue  distance,  or  silver  gleam  of  water  —  all  these  are 
managed  with  a  delicate  tact,  a  pervading  yet  quiet  assiduity, 
like  the  magic  touchings  with  which  a  painter  finishes  up  a 
favorite  picture. 

The  residence  of  people  of  fortune  and  refinement  in  the 
country,  has  diffused  a  degree  of  taste  and  elegance  in  rural 
economy,  that  descends  to  the  lowest  class.  The  very  laborer, 
with  his  thatched  cottage  and  narrow  slip  of  ground,  attends  to 
their  embellishment.  The  trim  hedge,  the  grass-plot  before  the 
door,  the  little  flower-bed  bordered  with  snug  box,  the  woodbine 
trained  up  against  the  wall,  and  hanging  its  blossoms  about  the 
lattice  ;  the  pot  of  flowers  in  the  window ;  the  holly,  providently 
planted  about  the  house,  to  cheat  winter  of  its  dreariness,  and 
to  throw  in  a  semblance  of  green  summer  to  cheer  the  fireside: 
—  all  these  bespeak  the  influence  of  taste,  flowing  down  from 
high  sources,  and  pervading  the  lowest  levels  of  the  public 
mind.  If  ever  Love,  as  poets  sing,  delights  to  visit  a  cottage, 
it  must  be  the  cottage  of  an  English  peasant. 

The  fondness  for  rural  life  among  the  higher  classes  of  the 
English,  has  had  a  great  and  salutary  effect  upon  the  national 
character.  I  do  not  know  a  finer  race  of  men  than  the  English 
gentlemen.  Instead  of  ,the  softness  and  effeminacy  which 
characterize  the  men  of  rank  in  most  countries,  they  exhibit 
a  union  of  elegance  and  strength,  a  robustness  of  frame  and 


52  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

freshness  of  complexion,  which  I  am  inclined  to  attribute  to 
their  living  so  much  in  the  open  air,  and  pursuing  so  eagerly 
the  invigorating  recreations  of  the  country.  These  hardy  exer- 
cises produce  also  a  healthful  tone  of  mind  and  spirits,  and  a 
manliness  and  simplicity  of  manners,  which  even  the  follies  and 
dissipations  of  the  town  cannot  easily  pervert,  and  can  never 
entirely  destroy.  In  the  country,  too,  the  different  orders  of 
society  seem  to  approach  more  freely,  to  be  more  disposed  to 
blend  and  operate  favorably  upon  each  other.  The  distinctions 
between  them  do  not  appear  to  be  so  marked  and  impassable, 
as  in  the  cities.  The  manner  in  which  property  has  been  dis- 
tributed into  small  estates  and  farms,  has  established  a  regular 
gradation  from  the  nobleman,  through  the  classes  of  gentry, 
small  landed  proprietors,  and  substantial  farmers,  down  to  the 
laboring  peasantry  ;  and  while  it  has  thus  banded  the  extremes 
of  society  together,  has  infused  into  each  intermediate  rank  a 
spirit  of  independence.  This,  it  must  be  confessed,  is  not  so 
universally  the  case  at  present  as  it  was  formerly  ;  the  larger 
estates  having,  in  late  years  of  distress,  absorbed  the  smaller, 
and,  in  some  parts  of  the  country,  almost  annihilated  the  sturdy 
race  of  small  farmers.  These,  however,  I  believe,  are  but  cas- 
ual breaks  in  the  general  system  I  have  mentioned. 

In  rural  occupation,  there  is  nothing  mean  and  debasing.  It 
leads  a  man  forth  among  scenes  of  natural  grandeur  and  beau- 
ty ;  it  leaves  him  to  the  workings  of  his  own  mind,  operated 
upon  by  the  purest  and  most  elevating  of  external  influences. 
Such  a  man  may  be  simple  and  rough,  but  he  cannot  be  vulgar. 
The  man  of  refinement,  therefore,  finds  nothing  revolting  in 
an  intercourse  with  the  lower  orders  in  rural  life,  as  he  does 
when  he  casually  mingles  with  the  lower  orders  of  cities.  He 
lays  aside  his  distance  and  reserve,  and  is  glad  to  waive  the 
distinctions  of  rank,  and  to  enter  into  the  honest,  heart-felt 
enjoyments  of  common  life.  Indeed,  the  very  amusements  of 
the  country  bring  men  more  and  more  together ;  and  the  sound 
of  hound  and  horn  blend  all  feelings  into  harmon}7.  I  believe 
this  is  one  great  reason  why  the  nobility  and  gentry  are  more 
popular  among  the  inferior  orders  in  England,  than  they  are  in 
any  other  country ;  and  why  the  latter  have  endured  so  many 
excessive  pressures  and  extremities,  without  repining  more 
generally  at  the  unequal  distribution  of  fortune  and  privilege. 

To  this  mingling  of  cultivated  and  rustic  society,  may  also 
be  attributed  the  rural  feeling  that  runs  through  British  litera- 
ture ;  the  frequent  use  of  illustrations  from  rural  life ;  those 
incomparable  descriptions  of  Nature,  that  abound  in  the  British 


RURAL   LIFE  IN  ENGLAND.  53 

poets  —  that  have  continued  down  from  "the  Flower  and  the 
Leaf"  of  Chaucer,  and  have  brought  into  our  closets  all  the 
freshness  and  fragrance  of  the  dewy  landscape.  The  pastoral 
writers  of  other  countries  appear  as  if  they  had  paid  Nature 
an  occasional  visit,  and  become  acquainted  with  her  general 
charms  ;  but  the  British  poets  have  lived  and  revelled  with  her 
—  they  have  wooed  her  in  her  most  secret  haunts  —  they  have 
watched  her  minutest  caprices.  A  spray  could  not  tremble  in 
the  breeze  —  a  leaf  could  not  rustle  to  the  ground  —  a  diamond 
drop  could  not  patter  in  the  stream  —  a  fragrance  could  not  ex- 
hale from  the  humble  violet,  nor  a  daisy  unfold  its  crimson  tints 
to  the  morning,  but  it  has  been  noticed  by  these  impassioned 
and  delicate  observers,  and  wrought  up  into  some  beautiful 
morality. 

The  effect  of  this  devotion  of  elegant  minds  to  rural  occupa- 
tions, has  been  wonderful  on  the  face  of  the  country.  A  great 
part  of  the  island  is  rather  level,  and  would  be  monotonous, 
were  it  not  for  the  charms  of  culture ;  but  it  is  studded  and 
gemmed,  as  it  were,  with  castles  and  palaces,  and  embroidered 
with  parks  and  gardens.  It  does  not  abound  in  grand  and 
sublime  prospects,  but  rather  in  little  home  scenes  of  rural 
repose  and  sheltered  quiet.  Every  antique  farm-house  and 
moss-grown  cottage  is  a  picture  ;  and  as  the  roads  are  continu- 
ally winding,  and  the  view  is  shut  in  b}*  groves  and  hedges,  the 
eye  is  delighted  by  a  continual  succession  of  small  landscapes 
of  captivating  loveliness. 

The  great  charm,  however,  of  English  scenery,  is  the  moral 
feeling  that  seems  to  pervade  it.  It  is  associated  in  the  mind 
with  ideas  of  order,  of  quiet,  of  sober  well-established  princi- 
ples, of  hoary  usage  and  reverend  custom.  Every  thing  seems 
to  be  the  growth  of  ages  of  regular  and  peaceful  existence. 
The  old  church,  of  remote  architecture,  with  its  low  massive 
portal ;  its  Gothic  tower ;  its  windows,  rich  with  tracery  and 
painted  glass,  in  scrupulous  preservation  —  its  stately  monu- 
ments of  warriors  and  worthies  of  the  olden  time,  ancestors  of 
the  present  lords  of  the  soil  —  its  tombstones,  recording  suc- 
cessive generations  of  sturdy  yeomanry,  whose  progeny  still 
plough  the  same  fields,  and  kneel  at  the  same  altar  —  the  par- 
sonage, a  quaint  irregular  pile,  partly  antiquated,  but  repaired 
and  altered  in  the  tastes  of  various  ages  and  occupants  —  the 
stile  and  footpath  leading  from  the  church-yard,  across  pleasant 
fields,  and  along  shady  hedge-rows,  according  to  an  immemora- 
ble  right  of  way  —  the  neighboring  village,  with  its  venerable 
its  public  green,  sheltered  by  trees,  under  which  the 


54  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

forefathers  of  the  present  race  have  sported  —  the  antique 
family  mansion,  standing  apart  in  some  little  rural  domain,  but 
looking  down  with  a  protecting  air  on  the  surrounding  scene  — 
all  these  common  features  of  English  landscape  evince  a  calm 
and  settled  security,  an  hereditary  transmission  of  home-bred 
virtues  and  local  attachments,  that  speak  deeply  and  touchingly 
for  the  moral  character  of  the  nation. 

It  is  a  pleasing  sight,  of  a  Sunday  morning,  when  the  bell  is 
sending  its  sober  melody  across  the  quiet  fields,  to  behold  the 
peasantry  in  their  best  finery,  with  ruddy  faces,  and  modest 
cheerfulness,  thronging  tranquilly  along  the  green  lanes  to 
church ;  but  it  is  still  more  pleasing  to  see  them  in  the  even- 
ings, gathering  about  their  cottage  doors,  and  appearing  to 
exult  in  the  humble  comforts  and  embellishments  which  their 
own  hands  have  spread  around  them. 

It  is  this  sweet  home  feeling,  this  settled  repose  of  affection 
in  the  domestic  scene,  that  is,  after  all,  the  parent  of  the 
steadiest  virtues  and  purest  enjoyments ;  and  I  cannot  close 
these  desultory  remarks  better  than  by  quoting  the  words  of  a 
modern  English  poet,  who  has  depicted  it  with  remarkable 
felicity. 

Through  each  gradation,  from  the  castled  hall, 
The  city-  dome,  the  villa  crown 'd  with  shade, 
But  chief  from  modest  mansions  numberless, 
In  town  or  hamlet,  shelt'ring  middle  life, 
Down  to  the  cottaged  vale,  and  straw-roof 'd  shed ; 
This  western  isle  hath  long  been  famed  for  scenes 
Where  bliss  domestic  finds  a  dwelling-place; 
Domestic  bliss,  that,  like  a  harmless  dove, 
(Honor  and  sweet  endearment  keeping  guard) 
Can  centre  in  a  little  quiet  nest 
All  that  desire  would  fry  for  through  the  earth; 
That  can,  the  world  eluding,  be  itself 
A  world  enjoy'd ;  that  wants  no  witnesses 
But  its  own  sharers,  and  approving  Heaven; 
That,  like  a  flower  deep  hid  in  rocky  cleft, 
Smiles,  though  'tis  looking  only  at  the  sky.1 

1  From  a  poem  on  the  death  of  the  Princess  Charlotte,  by  the  Reverend  Rann 
Kennedy,  A.M. 


THE  BROKEN  HEART.  55 


THE  BROKEN  HEART. 

I  never  heard 

Of  any  true  affection,  but  'twas  nipt 
With  care,  that,  like  the  caterpillar,  eats 
The  leaves  of  the  spring's  sweetest  book,  the  rose.  —  MIDDLETON. 

IT  is  a  common  practice  with  those  who  have  outlived  the 
susceptibility  of  early  feeling,  or  have  been  brought  up  in  the 
gay  heartlessness  of  dissipated  life,  to  laugh  at  all  love  stories, 
and  to  treat  the  tales  of  romantic  passion  as  mere  fictions  of 
novelists  and  poets.  My  observations  on  human  nature  have 
induced  me  to  think  otherwise.  They  have  convinced  me,  that 
however  the  surface  of  the  character  may  be  chilled  and  frozen 
by  the  cares  of  the  world,  or  cultivated  into  mere  smiles  by  the 
arts  of  society,  still  there  are  dormant  fires  lurking  in  the  depths 
of  the  coldest  bosom,  which,  when  once  enkindled,  become  im- 
petuous, and  are  sometimes  desolating  in  their  effects.  Indeed, 
I  am  a  true  believer  in  the  blind  deity,  and  go  to  the  full  extent 
of  his  doctrines.  Shall  I  confess  it?  —  I  believe  in  broken 
hearts,  and  the  possibility  of  dying  of  disappointed  love  !  I  do 
not,  however,  consider  it  a  malady  often  fatal  to  my  own  sex ; 
but  I  firmly  believe  that  it  withers  down  many  a  lovely  woman 
into  an  early  grave. 

Man  is  the  creature  of  interest  and  ambition.  His  nature 
leads  him  forth  into  the  struggle  and  bustle  of  the  world.  Love 
is  but  the  embellishment  of  his  early  life,  or  a  song  piped  in 
the  intervals  of  the  acts.  He  seeks  for  fame,  for  fortune,  for 
space  in  the  world's  thought,  and  dominion  over  his  fellow-men. 
But  a  woman's  whole  life  is  a  history  of  the  affections.  The 
heart  is  her  world ;  it  is  there  her  ambition  strives  for  empire 
—  it  is  there  her  avarice  seeks  for  hidden  treasures.  She  sends 
forth  her  sympathies  on  adventure ;  she  embarks  her  whole 
soul  in  the  traffic  of  affection  ;  and  if  shipwrecked,  her  case  is 
hopeless  —  for  it  is  a  bankruptcy  of  the  heart. 

To  a  man,  the  disappointment  of  love  may  occasion  some 
bitter  pangs  :  it  wounds  some  feelings  of  tenderness  —  it  blasts 
some  prospects  of  felicity ;  but  he  is  an  active  being ;  he  may 
dissipate  his  thoughts  in  the  whirl  of  varied  occupation,  or  may 
plunge  into  the  tide  of  pleasure ;  or,  if  the  scene  of  disappoint- 
ment be  too  full  of  painful  associations,  he  can  shift  his  abode 
at  will,  and  taking,  as  it  were,  the  wings  of  the  morning,  can 
"  fly  to  the  uttermost  parts  of  the  earth,  and  be  at  rest," 


56  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

But  woman's  is  comparatively  a  fixed,  a  secluded,  and  medi- 
tative life.  She  ie  more  the  companion  of  her  own  thoughts 
and  feelings ;  and  if  they  are  turned  to  ministers  of  sorrow, 
where  shall  she  look  for  consolation  ?  Her  lot  is  to  be  wooed 
and  won ;  and  if  unhappy  in  her  love,  her  heart  is  like  some 
fortress  that  has  been  captured,  and  sacked,  and  abandoned, 
and  left  desolate. 

How  many  bright  eyes  grow  dim  —  how  many  soft  cheeks 
grow  pale  —  how  many  lovely  forms  fade  away  into  the  tomb, 
and  none  can  tell  the  cause  that  blighted  their  loveliness  !  As 
the  dove  will  clasp  its  wings  to  its  side,  and  cover  and  conceal 
the  arrow  that  is  preying  on  its  vitals  —  so  is  it  the  nature  of 
woman,  to  hide  from  the  world  the  pangs  of  wounded  affection. 
The  love  of  a  delicate  female  is  always  shy  and  silent.  Even 
when  fortunate,  she  scarcely  breathes  it  to  herself ;  but  when 
otherwise,  she  buries  it  in  the  recesses  of  her  bosom,  and  there 
lets  it  cower  and  brood  among  the  ruins  of  her  peace.  With 
her,  the  desire  of  the  heart  has  failed  —  the  great  charm  of 
existence  is  at  an  end.  She  neglects  all  the  cheerful  exercises 
which  gladden  the  spirits,  quicken  the  pulses,  and  send  the  tide 
of  life  in  healthful  currents  through  the  veins.  Her  rest  is 
broken  —  the  sweet  refreshment  of  sleep  is  poisoned  by  melan- 
choly dreams —  "  dry  sorrow  drinks  her  blood,"  until  her  en- 
feebled frame  sinks  under  the  slightest  external  injury.  Look 
for  her,  after  a  little  while,  and  you  find  friendship  weeping 
over  her  untimely  grave,  and  wondering  that  one,  who  but 
lately  glowed  with  all  the  radiance  of  health  and  beauty,  should 
so  speedily  be  brought  down  to  "darkness  and  the  worm." 
You  will  be  told  of  some  wintry  chill,  some  casual  indisposi- 
tion, that  laid  her  low  —  but  no  one  knows  of  the  mental  malady 
which  previously  sapped  her  strength,  and  made  her  so  easy  a 
prey  to  the  spoiler. 

She  is  like  some  tender  tree,  the  pride  and  beauty  of  the 
grove  :  graceful  in  its  form,  bright  in  its  foliage,  but  with  the 
worm  preying  at  its  heart.  We  find  it  suddenly  withering, 
when  it  should  be  most  fresh  and  luxuriant.  We  see  it  droop- 
Ing  its  branches  to  the  earth,  and  shedding  leaf  by  leaf ;  until, 
wasted  and  perished  away,  it  falls  even  in  the  stillness  of  the 
forest;  and  as  we  muse  over  the  beautiful  ruin,  we  strive  in 
vain  to  recollect  the  blast  or  thunderbolt  that  could  have  smit- 
ten it  with  decay. 

I  have  seen  many  instances  of  women  running  to  waste  and 
self -neglect,  and  disappearing  gradually  from  the  earth,  almost 
as  if  they  had  been  exhaled  to  heaven ;  and  have  repeatedly 


THE  BROKEN  HEART.  57 

fancied  that  I  could  trace  their  deaths  through  the  various  de- 
clensions of  consumption,  cold,  debility,  languor,  melancholy, 
until  I  reached  the  first  symptom  of  disappointed  love.  But 
an  instance  of  the  kind  was  lately  told  to  me ;  the  circum- 
stances are  well  known  in  the  country  where  they  happened, 
and  I  shall  but  give  them  in  the  manner  in  which  they  were 
related. 

Every  one  must  recollect  the  tragical  story  of  young  E , 

the  Irish  patriot :  it  was  too  touching  to  be  soon  forgotten. 
During  the  troubles  in  Ireland  he  was  tried,  condemned,  and 
executed,  on  a  charge  of  treason.  His  fate  made  a  deep  im- 
pression on  public  sympathy..  He  was  so  young  —  so  intelli- 
gent —  so  generous  —  so  brave  —  so  every  thing  that  we  are  apt 
to  like  in  a  young  man.  His  conduct  under  trial,  too,  was  so 
lofty  and  intrepid.  The  noble  indignation  with  which  he  re- 
pelled the  charge  of  treason  against  his  country  —  the  eloquent 
vindication  of  his  name  —  and  his  pathetic  appeal  to  posterity, 
in  the  hopeless  hour  of  condemnation  —  all  these  entered  deeply 
into  every  generous  bosom,  and  even  his  enemies  lamented  the 
stern  policy  that  dictated  his  execution. 

But  there  was  one  heart,  whose  anguish  it  would  be  impossi- 
ble to  describe.  In  happier  days  and  fairer  fortunes  he  had 
won  the  affections  of  a  beautiful  and  interesting  girl,  the  daugh- 
ter of  a  late  celebrated  Irish  barrister.  She  loved  him  with  the 
disinterested  fervor  of  a  woman's  first  and  early  love.  When 
every  worldly  maxim  arrayed  itself  against  him  ;  when  blasted 
in  fortune,  and  disgrace  and  danger  darkened  around  his  name, 
she  loved  him  the  more  ardently  for  his  very  sufferings.  If, 
then,  his  fate  could  awaken  the  sympathy  even  of  his  foes, 
what  must  have  been  the  agony  of  her,  whose  whole  soul  was 
occupied  by  his  image  ?  Let  those  tell  who  have  had  the  portals 
of  the  tomb  suddenly  closed  between  them  and  the  being  they 
most  loved  on  earth  —  who  have  sat  at  its  threshold,  as  one 
shut  out  in  a  cold  and  lonely  wrorld,  whence  all  that  was  most 
lovely  and  loving  had  departed. 

But  then  the  horrors  of  such  a  grave  !  —  so  frightful,  so  dis- 
honored !  There  was  nothing  for  memory  to  dwell  on  that 
could  soothe  the  pang  of  separation  —  none  of  those  tender, 
though  melancholy  circumstances,  which  endear  the  parting  scene 
—  nothing  to  melt  sorrow  into  those  blessed  tears,  sent,  like 
the  dews  of  heaven,  to  revive  the  heart  in  the  parting  hour  of 
anguish. 

To  render  her  widowed  situation  more  desolate,  she  had 
incurred  her  father's  displeasure  by  her  unfortunate  attach- 


58  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

ment,  and  was  an  exile  from  the  paternal  roof.  But  could  the 
sympathy  and  kind  offices  of  friends  have  reached  a  spirit  so 
shocked  and  driven  in  by  horror,  she  would  have  experienced 
no  want  of  consolation,  for  the  Irish  are  a  people  of  quick  and 
generous  sensibilities.  The  most  delicate  and  cherishing  atten- 
tions were  paid  her,  by  families  of  wealth  and  distinction. 
She  was  led  into  society,  and  they  tried  by  all  kinds  of  occupa- 
tion and  amusement  to  dissipate  her  grief,  and  wean  her  from 
the  tragical  story  of  her  loves.  But  it  was  all  in  vain.  There 
are  some  strokes  of  calamity  which  scathe  and  scorch  the  soul  — 
which  penetrate  to  the  vital  seat  of  happiness  —  and  blast  it, 
never  again  to  put  forth  bud  or  blossom.  She  never  objected 
to  frequent  the  haunts  of  pleasure,  but  was  as  much  alone  there, 
as  in  the  depths  of  solitude;  walking  about  in  a  sad  reverie, 
apparently  unconscious  of  the  world  around  her.  She  carried 
with  her  an  inward  woe  that  mocked  at  all  the  blandishments 
of  friendship,  and  "  heeded  not  the  song  of  the  charmer,  charm 
he  never  so  wisely." 

The  person  who  told  me  her  story  had  seen  her  at  a  mas- 
querade. There  can  be  no  exhibition  of  far-gone  wretchedness 
more  striking  and  painful  than  to  meet  it  in  such  a  scene.  To 
find  it  wandering  like  a  spectre,  lonely  and  joyless,  where  all 
around  is  gay  —  to  see  it  dressed  out  in  the  trappings  of  mirth, 
and  looking  so  wan  and  wo-begone,  as  if  it  had  tried  in  vain  to 
cheat  the  poor  heart  into  a  momentary  forgetfulness  of  sorrow. 
After  strolling  through  the  splendid  rooms  and  giddy  crowd 
with  an  air  of  utter  abstraction,  she  sat  herself  down  on  the 
steps  of  an  orchestra,  and  looking  about  for  some  time  with  a 
vacant  air,  that  showed  her  insensibility  to  the  garish  scene, 
she  began,  with  the  capriciousness  of  a  sickly  heart,  to  warble 
a  little  plaintive  air.  She  had  an  exquisite  voice ;  but  on  this 
occasion  it  was  so  simple,  so  touching  —  it  breathed  forth  such 
a  soul  of  wretchedness  —  that  she  drew  a  crowd,  mute  and 
silent,  around  her,  and  melted  every  one  into  tears. 

The  story  of  one  so  true  and  tender  could  not  but  excite 
great  interest  in  a  country  remarkable  for  enthusiasm.  It 
completely  won  the  heart  of  a  brave  officer,  who  paid  his 
addresses  to  her,  and  thought  that  one  so  true  to  the  dead, 
could  not  but  prove  affectionate  to  the  living.  She  declined  his 
attentions,  for  her  thoughts  were  irrevocably  engrossed  by  the 
memory  of  her  former  lover.  He,  however,  persisted  in  his 
suit.  He  solicited  not  her  tenderness,  but  her  esteem.  He 
was  assisted  by  her  conviction  of  his  worth,  and  her  sense  of 
her  own  destitute  and  dependent  situation,  for  she  was  existing 


THE  ART  OF  BOOK-MAKING.  59 

on  the  kkidness  of  friends.  In  a  word,  he  at  length  succeeded 
in  gaining  her  hand,  though  with  the  solemn  assurance,  that 
her  heart  was  unalterably  another's. 

He  took  her  with  him  to  Sicily,  hoping  that  a  change  of 
scene  might  wear  out  the  remembrance  of  early  woes.  She 
was  an  amiable  and  exemplary  wife,  and  made  an  effort  to  be  a 
happy  one ;  but  nothing  could  cure  the  silent  and  devouring 
melancholy  that  had  entered  into  her  very  soul.  She  wasted 
away  in  a  slow,  but  hopeless  decline,  and  at  length  sunk  into 
the  grave,  the  victim  of  a  broken  heart. 

It  was  on  her  that  Moore,  the  distinguished  Irish  poet,  com- 
posed the  following  lines : 

She  is  far  from  the  land  where  her  young  hero  sleeps, 

And  lovers  around  her  are  sighing; 
But  coldly  she  turns  from  their  gaze,  and  weeps, 

For  her  heart  in  his  grave  is  lying. 

She  sings  the  wild  songs  of  her  dear  native  plains, 

Every  note  which  he  loved  awaking  — 
Ah!  little  they  think,  who  delight  in  her  strains, 

How  the  heart  of  the  minstrel  is  breaking ! 

He  had  lived  for  his  love  —  for  his  country  he  died, 

They  were  all  that  to  life  had  entwined  him  — 
Nor  soon  shall  the  tears  of  his  country  be  dried, 

Nor  long  will  his  love  stay  behind  him ! 

Oh !  make  her  a  grave  where  the  sunbeams  rest, 

When  they  promise  a  glorious  morrow ; 
They'll  shine  o'er  her  sleep,  like  a  smile  from  the  west, 

From  her  own  loved  island  of  sorrow ! 


THE   ART   OF   BOOK-MAKING. 

"If  that  severe  doom  of  Synesius  be  true  —  'it  is  a  greater  offence  to  steal  dead 
men's  labors  than  their  clothes,'  —  what  shall  become  of  most  writers?" — BURTON'S 
Anatomy  of  Melancholy. 

I  HAVE  often  wondered  at  the  extreme  fecunditj-  of  the  press, 
and  how  it  comes  to  pass  that  so  many  heads,  on  which  Nature 
seemed  to  have  inflicted  the  curse  of  barrenness,  should  teem  with 
voluminous  productions.  As  a  man  travels  on,  however,  in 
the  journey  of  life,  his  objects  of  wonder  daily  diminish,  and 
he  is  continually  finding  out  some  very  simple  cause  for  some 


60  THE  ^KETCH-BOOK. 

great  matter  of  marvel.  Thus  have  I  chanced,  in  my  peregri- 
nations about  this  great  metropolis,  to  blunder  upon  a  scene 
which  unfolded  to  me  some  of  the  mysteries  of  the  book-making 
craft,  and  at  once  put  an  end  to  my  astonishment. 

I  was  one  summer's  day  loitering  through  the  great  saloons 
of  the  British  Museum,  with  that  listlessness  with  which  one  is 
apt  to  saunter  about  a  museum  in  warm  weather ;  sometimes  loll- 
ing over  the  glass  cases  of  minerals,  sometimes  studying  the 
hieroglyphics  on  an  Egyptian  mummy,  and  sometimes  trying, 
with  nearly  equal  success,  to  comprehend  the  allegorical  paint- 
ings on  the  lofty  ceilings.  Whilst  I  was  gazing  about  in  this 
idle  way,  my  attention  was  attracted  to  a  distant  door,  at  the 
end  of  a  suite  of  apartments.  It  was  closed,  but  every  now 
and  then  it  would  open,  and  some  strange-favored  being,  gen- 
erally clothed  in  black,  would  steal  forth,  and  glide  through 
the  rooms,  without  noticing  any  of  the  surrounding  objects. 
There  was  an  air  of  mystery  about  this  that  piqued  my  languid 
curiosity,  and  I  determined  to  attempt  the  passage  of  that 
strait,  and  to  explore  the  unknown  regions  beyond.  The  door 
yielded  to  my  hand,  with  that  facility  with  which  the  por- 
tals of  enchanted  castles  yield  to  the  adventurous  knight- 
errant.  I  found  myself  in  a  spacious  chamber,  surrounded  with 
great  cases  of  venerable  books.  Above  the  cases,  and  just 
under  the  cornice,  were  arranged  a  great  number  of  black- 
looking  portraits  of  ancient  authors.  About  the  room  were 
placed  long  tables,  with  stands  for  reading  and  writing,  at 
which  sat  many  pale,  studious  personages,  poring  intently 
over  dusty  volumes,  rummaging  among  mouldy  manuscripts, 
and  taking  copious  notes  of  their  contents.  A  hushed  still- 
ness reigned  through  this  mysterious  apartment,  excepting 
that  you  might  hear  the  racing  of  pens  over  sheets  of  paper,  or, 
occasionally,  the  deep  sigh  of  one  of  these  sages,  as  he  shifted 
his  position  to  turn  over  the  page  of  an  old  folio;  doubtless 
arising  from  that  hollowness  and  flatulency  incident  to  learned 
research. 

Now  and  then  one  of  these  personages  would  write  something 
on  a  small  slip  of  paper,  and  ring  a  bell,  whereupon  a  familiar 
would  appear,  take  the  paper  in  profound  silence,  glide  out  of 
the  room,  and  return  shortly  loaded  with  ponderous  tomes, 
upon  which  the  other  would  fall,  tooth  and  nail,  with  famished 
voracity.  I  had  no  longer  a  doubt  that  I  had  happened  upon  a 
body  of  magi,  deeply  engaged  in  the  study  of  occult  sciences. 
The  scene  reminded  me  of  an  old  Arabian  tale,  of  a  philoso- 
pher, shut  up  in  an  enchanted  library,  in  the  bosom  of  a 

f 


THE  ART  OF  BOOK-MAKING.  61 

mountain,  which  opened  only  once  a  year ;  where  he  made  the 
spirits  of  the  place  bring  him  books  of  all  kinds  of  dark 
knowledge,  so  that  at  the  end  of  the  year,  whem  the 
magic  portal  once  more  swung  open  on  its  hinges,  he  issued 
forth  so  versed  in  forbidden  lore,  as  to  be  able  to  soar 
above  the  heads  of  the  multitude,  and  to  control  the  powers  of 
Nature. 

My  curiosity  being  now  fully  aroused,  1  whispered  to  one  of 
the  familiars,  as  he  was  about  to  leave  the  room,  and  begged 
an  interpretation  of  the  strange  scene  before  me.  A  few  words 
were  sufficient  for  the  purpose :  —  I  found  that  these  mysterious 
personages,  whom  I  had  mistaken  for  magi,  were  principally 
authors,  and  in  the  very  act  of  manufacturing  books.  I  was, 
in  fact,  in  the  reading-room  of  the  great  British  Library, 
an  immense  collection  of  volumes  of  all  ages  and  languages, 
many  of  which  are  now  forgotten,  and  most  of  which  are  seldom 
read ;  one  of  these  sequestered  pools  of  obsolete  literature, 
to  which  modern  authors  repair,  and  draw  buckets  full  of 
classic  lore,  or  "pure  English,  undefiled,"  wherewith  to  swell 
their  own  scanty  rills  of  thought. 

Being  now  in  possession  of  the  secret,  I  sat  down  in  a  corner, 
and  watched  the  process  of  this  book  manufactory.  I  noticed 
one  lean,  bilious-looking  wight,  who  sought  none  but  the  most 
worm-eaten  volumes,  printed  in  black-letter.  He  was  evidently 
constructing  some  work  of  profound  erudition,  that  would  be 
purchased  by  every  man  who  wished  to  be  thought  learned, 
placed  upon  a  conspicuous  shelf  of  his  library,  or  laid  open 
upon  his  table  —  but  never  read.  I  observed  him,  now  and 
then,  draw  a  large  fragment  of  biscuit  out  of  his  pocket,  and 
gnaw  ;  whether  it  was  his  dinner,  or  whether  he  was  endeavor- 
ing to  keep  off  that  exhaustion  of  the  stomach,  produced  by 
much  pondering  over  dry  works,  I  leave  to  harder  students 
than  myself  to  determine. 

There  was  one  dapper  little  gentleman  in  bright  colored 
clothes,  with  a  chirping  gossiping  expression  of  countenance 
who  had  all  the  appearance  of  an  author  on  good  terms  with 
his  bookseller.  After  considering  him  attentively,  I  recognized 
in  him  a  diligent  getter-up  of  miscellaneous  works,  which  bus- 
tled off  well  with  the  trade.  I  was  curious  to  see  how  he  man- 
ufactured his  wares-  He  made  more  stir  and  show  of  business 
than  any  of  the  others ;  dipping  into  various  books,  fluttering 
over  the  leaves  of  manuscripts,  taking  a  morsel  out  of  one,  a 
morsel  out  of  another,  "  line  upon  line,  precept  upon  precept, 
here  a  little  and  there  a  little."  The  contents  of  his  book 


62  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

seemed  to  be  as  heterogeneous  as  those  of  the  witches'  caldron 
in  Macbeth.  It  was  here  a  finger  and  there  a  thumb,  toe  of 
frog  and  blind  worm's  sting,  with  his  own  gossip  poured  in  like 
"  baboon's  blood,"  to  make  the  medley  "  slab  and  good." 

After  all,  thought  I,  may  not  this  pilfering  disposition  be  im- 
planted in  authors  for  wise  purposes  ?  may  it  not  be  the  way  in 
which  Providence  has  taken  care  that  the  seeds  of  knowledge 
and  wisdom  shall  be  preserved  from  age  to  age,  in  spite  of  the 
inevitable  decay  of  the  works  in  which  they  were  first  produced? 
We  see  that  Nature  has  wisely,  though  whimsically  provided 
for  the  conveyance  of  seeds  from  clime  to  clime,  in  the  maws 
of  certain  birds  ;  so  that  animals,  which,  in  themselves,  are 
little  better  than  carrion,  and  apparently  the  lawless  plunderers 
of  the  orchard  and  the  corn-field,  are,  in  fact,  Nature's  carriers 
to  disperse  and  perpetuate  her  blessings.  In  like  manner,  the 
beauties  and  fine  thoughts  of  ancient  and  obsolete  authors  are 
caught  up  by  these  flights  of  predatory  writers,  and  cast  forth, 
again  to  flourish  and  bear  fruit  in  a  remote  and  distant  tract  of 
time.  Many  of  their  works,  also,  undergo  a  kind  of  metempsy- 
chosis, and  spring  up  under  new  forms.  What  was  formerly  a 
ponderous  history,  revives  in  the  shape  of  a  romance  —  an  old 
legend  changes  into  a  modern  play  —  and  a  sober  philosophical 
treatise  furnishes  the  body  for  a  whole  series  of  bouncing  and 
sparkling  essays.  Thus  it  is  in  the  clearing  of  our  American 
woodlands;  where  we  burn  down  a  forest  of  stately  pines,  a 
progeny  of  dwarf  oaks  start  up  in  their  place ;  and  we  never 
see  the  prostrate  trunk  of  a  tree,  mouldering  into  soil,  but  it 
gives  birth  to  a  whole  tribe  of  fungi. 

Let  us  not,  then,  lament  over  the  decay  and  oblivion  into 
which  ancient  writers  descend  ;  they  do  but  submit  to  the  great 
law  of  Nature,  which  declares  that  all  sublunary  shapes  of  mat- 
ter shall  be  limited  in  their  duration,  but  which  decrees,  also, 
that  their  elements  shall  never  perish.  Generation  after  gen- 
eration, both  in  animal  and  vegetable  life,  passes  away,  but  the 
vital  principle  is  transmitted  to  posterity,  and  the  species  con- 
tinue to  flourish.  Thus,  also,  do  authors  beget  authors,  and 
having  produced  a  numerous  progeny,  in  a  good  old  age  they 
sleep  with  their  fathers ;  that  is  to  say,  with  the  authors  who 
preceded  them  —  and  from  whom  they  had  stolen. 

Whilst  I  was  indulging  in  these  rambling  fancies  I  had  leaned 
my  head  against  a  pile  of  reverend  folios.  Whether  it  was 
owing  to  the  soporific  emanations  from  these  works  ;  or  to  the 
profound  quiet  of  the  room ;  or  to  the  lassitude  arising  from 
much  wandering;  or  to  an  unlucky  habit  of  napping  at  im- 


ART  OF  BOOK-MAKING.  63 

proper  times  and  places,  with  which  I  am  grievously  afflicted,  so 
it  was,  that  I  fell  into  a  doze.  Still,  however,  my  imagination 
continued  busy,  and  indeed  the  same  scene  remained  before 
my  mind's  eye,  only  a  little  changed  in  some  of  the  details. 
I  dreamt  that  the  chamber  was  still  decorated  with  the  por- 
traits of  ancient  authors,  but  that  the  number  was  increased.  The 
long  tables  had  disappeared,  and  in  place  of  the  sage  magi,  I 
beheld  a  ragged,  threadbare  throng,  such  as  may  be  seen  plying: 
about  the  great  repository  of  cast-off  clothes,  Monmouth-street- 
Whenever  they  seized  upon  a  book,  by  one  of  those  incongru- 
ities common  to  dreams,  methought  it  turned  into  a  garment  of 
foreign  or  antique  fashion,  with  which  they  proceeded  to  equip 
themselves.  I  noticed,  however,  that  no  one  pretended  to 
clothe  himself  from  any  particular  suit,  but  took  a  sleeve  from 
one,  a  cape  from  another,  a  skirt  from  a  third,  thus  decking 
himself  out  piecemeal,  while  some  of  his  original  rags  would 
peep  out  from  among  his  borrowed  finery. 

There  was  a  portly,  rosy,  well-fed  parson,  whom  I  observed 
ogling  several  mouldy  polemical  writers  through  an  eye-glass. 
He  soon  contrived  to  slip  on  the  voluminous  mantle  of  one  of 
the  old  fathers,  and  having  purloined  the  gray  beard  of  another, 
endeavored  to  look  exceedingly  wise  ;  but  the  smirking  common- 
place of  his  countenance  set  at  naught  all  the  trappings  of  wis- 
dom. One  sickly-looking  gentleman  was  busied  embroidering 
a  very  flimsy  garment  with  gold  thread  drawn  out  of  several  old 
court-dresses  of  the  reign  of  Queen  Elizabeth.  Another  had 
trimmed  himself  magnificently  from  an  illuminated  manuscript, 
had  stuck  a  nosegay  in  his  bosom,  culled  from  "  The  Paradise 
of  Daintie  Devices,"  and  having  put  Sir  Philip  Sidney's  hat  on 
one  side  of  his  head,  strutted  off  with  an  exquisite  air  of  vulgar 
elegance.  A  third,  who  was  but  of  puny  dimensions,  had  bol- 
stered himself  out  bravely  with  the  spoils  from  several  obscure 
tracts  of  philosophy,  so  that  he  had  a  very  imposing  front,  but 
he  was  lamentably  tattered  in  rear,  and  I  perceived  that  he  had 
patched  his  small-clothes  with  scraps  of  parchment  from  a  Latin 
author. 

There  were  some  well-dressed  gentlemen,  it  is  true,  who  only 
helped  themselves-  to  a  gem  or  so,  which  sparkled  among  their 
own  ornaments,  without  eclipsing  them.  Some,  too,  seemed 
to  contemplate  the  costumes  of  the  old  writers,  merely  to  im- 
bibe their  principles  of  taste,  and  to  catch  their  air  and  spirit ; 
but  I  grieve  to  say,  that  too  many  were  apt  to  array  themselves, 
from  top  to  toe,  in  the  patch-work  manner  I  have  mentioned. 
I  shall  not  omit  to  speak  of  one  genius,  in  drab  breeches  and 


64  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

gaiters,  and  an  Arcadian  hat,  who  had  a  violent  propensity  to 
the  pastoral,  but  whose  rural  wanderings  had  been  confined  to 
the  classic  haunts  of  Primrose  Hill,  and  the  solitudes  of  the 
Regent's  Park.  He  had  decked  himself  in  wreaths  and  ribbons 
from  all  the  old  pastoral  poets,  and  hanging  his  head  on  one 
side,  went  about  with  a  fantastical,  lack-a-daisical  air,  "  bab- 
bling about  green  fields."  But  the  personage  that  most  struck 
my  attention,  was  a  pragmatical  old  gentleman,  in  clerical 
robes,  with  a  remarkably  large  and  square,  but  bald  head. 
He  entered  the  room  wheezing  and  puffing,  elbowed  his  way 
through  the  throng,  with  a  look  of  sturdy  self-confidence,  and 
having  laid  hands  upon  a  thick  Greek  quarto,  clapped  it 
upon  his  head,  and  swept  majestically  away  in  a  formidable 
frizzled  wig. 

In  the  height  of  this  literary  masquerade,  a  cry  suddenly 
resounded  from  every  side,  of  "thieves!  thieves!"  I  looked, 
and  lo  !  the  portraits  about  the  walls  became  animated  !  The 
old  authors  thrust  out  first  a  head,  then  a  shoulder,  from  the 
canvas,  looked  down  curiously,  for  an  instant,  upon  the  motley 
throng,  and  then  descended,  with  fury  in  their  eyes,  to  claim 
their  rifled  property.  The  scene  of  scampering  and  hubbub 
that  ensued  baffles  all  description.  The  unhappy  culprits 
endeavored  in  vain  to  escape  with  their  plunder.  On  one 
side  might  be  seen  half-a-dozen  old  monks,  stripping  a  modern 
professor ;  on  another,  there  was  sad  devastation  carried  into  the 
ranks  of  modern  dramatic  writers.  Beaumont  and  Fletcher, 
side  by  side,  raged  round  the  field  like  Castor  and  Pollux,  and 
sturdy  Ben  Jonson  enacted  more  wonders  than  when  a  volun- 
teer with  the  army  in  Flanders.  As  to  the  dapper  little  com- 
piler of  farragos,  mentioned  some  time  since,  he  had  arrayed 
himself  in  as  many  patches  and  colors  as  Harlequin,  and 
there  was  as  fierce  a  contention  of  claimants  about  him,  as 
about  the  dead  body  of  Patroclus.  I  was  grieved  to  see  many 
men,  to  whom  I  had  been  accustomed  to  look  up  with  awe  and 
reverence,  fain  to  steal  off  with  scarce  a  rag  to  cover  their 
nakedness.  Just  then  my  eye  was  caught  by  the  pragmatical 
old  gentleman  in  the  Greek  grizzled  wig,  who  was  scrambling 
away  in  sore  affright  with  half  a  score  of  authors  in  full  cry 
after  him.  They  were  close  upon  his  haunches  ;  in  a  twinkling 
off  went  his  wig ;  at  every  turn  some  strip  of  raiment  was 
peeled  away  ;  until  in  a  few  moments,  from  his  domineering 
pomp,  he  shrunk  into  a  little  pursy,  "  chopped  bald  shot,"  and 
made  his  exit  with  only  a  few  tags  and  rags  fluttering  at  his 
back. 


A  ROYAL   POET.  65 

There  was  something  so  ludicrous  in  the  catastrophe  of  this 
learned  Theban,  that  I  burst  into  an  immoderate  fit  of  laughter, 
which  broke  the  whole  illusion.  The  tumult  and  the  scuffle 
were  at  an  end.  The  chamber  resumed  its  usual  appearance. 
The  old  authors  shrunk  back  into  their  picture-frames,  and 
hung  in  shadowy  solemnity  along  the  walls.  In  short,  I  found 
myself  wide  awake  in  my  corner,  with  the  whole  assemblage 
of  bookworms  «gazing  at  me  with  astonishment.  Nothing  of 
the  dream  had  been  real  but  my  burst  of  laughter,  a  sound 
never  before  heard  in  that  grave  sanctuary,  and  so  abhorrent 
to  the  ears  of  wisdom,  as  to  electrify  the  fraternity. 

The  librarian  now  stepped  up  to  me,  and  demanded  whether 
I  had  a  card  of  admission.  At  first  I  did  not  comprehend  him, 
but  I  soon  found  that  the  library  was  a  kind  of  literary  "  pre- 
serve," subject  to  game  laws,  and  that  no  one  must  presume 
to  hunt  there  without  special  license  and  permission.  In  a 
word,  I  stood  convicted  of  being  an  arrant  poacher,  and  was 
glad  to  make  a  precipitate  retreat,  lest  I  should  have  a  whole 
pack  of  authors  let  loose  upon  me. 


[  A   ROYAL   POET. 

Though  your  body  be  confined 

And  soft  love  a  prisoner  bound, 
Yet  the  beauty  of  your  mind 
Neither  check  nor  chain  hath  found. 
Look  out  nobly,  then,  and  dare 
Even  the  fetters  that  you  wear.  —  FLETCHER. 

ON  a  soft  sunny  morning  in  the  genial  month  of  May,  I  made 
an  excursion  to  Windsor  Castle.  It  is  a  place  full  of  storied 
and  poetical  associations.  The  very  external  aspect  of  the 
proucl  old  pile  is  enough  to  inspire  high  thought.  It  rears  its 
irregular  walls  and  massive  towers,  like  a  mural  crown  round 
the  brow  of  a  lofty  ridge,  waves  its  royal  banner  in  the  clouds, 
and  looks  down  with  a  lordly  air  upon  the  surrounding  world. 

On  this  morning,  the  weather  was  of  that  voluptuous  vernal 
kind  which  calls  forth  all  the  latent  romance  of  a  man's  tem- 
perament, filling  his  mind  with  music,  and  disposing  him  to 
quote  poetry  and  dream  of  beauty.  In  wandering  through  the 
magnificent  saloons  and  long  echoing  galleries  of  the  castle, 
I  passed  with  indifference  by  whole  rows  of  portraits  of  war- 


66  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

riors  and  statesmen,  but  lingered  in  the  chamber  where  hang 
the  likenesses  of  the  beauties  which  graced  the  gay  court  of 
Charles  the  Second ;  and  as  I  gazed  upon  them,  depicted  with 
amorous  half -dishevelled  tresses,  and  the  sleepy  eye  of  love,  I 
blessed  the  pencil  of  Sir  Peter  Lely,  which  had  thus  enabled  me 
to  bask  in  the  reflected  rays  of  beauty.  In  traversing  also  the 
"  large  green  courts,"  with  sunshine  beaming  on  the  gray  walls 
and  glancing  along  the  velvet  turf,  my  mind  was  engrossed 
with  the  image  of  the  tender,  the  gallant,  but  hapless  Surrey, 
and  his  account  of  his  loiterings  about  them  in  his  stripling  days, 
when  enamoured  of  the  Lady  Geraldine  — 

"  With  eyes  cast  up  unto  the  maiden's  tower, 
With  easie  sighs,  such  as  men  draw  in  love." 

In  this  mood  of  mere  poetical  susceptibilit}',  I  visited  the 
ancient  keep  of  the  castle,  where  James  the  First  of  Scotland, 
the  pride  and  theme  of  Scottish  poets  and  historians,  was  for 
many  years  of  his  youth  detained  a  prisoner  of  state.  It  is  a 
large  gray  tower,  that  has  stood  the  brunt  of  ages,  and  is  still 
in  good  preservation.  It  stands  on  a  mound  which  elevates  it 
above  the  other  parts  of  the  castle,  and  a  great  flight  of  steps 
leads  to  the  interior.  In  the  armory,  a  Gothic  hall,  furnished 
with  weapons  of  various  kinds  and  ages,  I  was  shown  a  coat 
of  armor  hanging  against  the  wall,  which  had  once  belonged  to 
James.  Hence  I  was  conducted  up  a  staircase  to  a  suite  of 
apartments  of  faded  magnificence,  hung  with  storied  tapestry, 
which  formed  his  prison,  and  the  scene  of  that  passionate  and 
fanciful  amour,  which  has  woven  into  the  web  of  his  story  the 
magical  hues  of  poetry  and  fiction. 

The  whole  history  of  this  amiable  but  unfortunate  prince  is 
highly  romantic.  At  the  tender  age  of  eleven,  he  was  sent 
from  home  by  his  father,  Robert  III.,  and  destined  for  the 
French  court,  to  be  reared  under  the  eye  of  the  French  mon- 
arch, secure  from  the  treachery  and  danger  that  surrounded 
the  royal  house  of  Scotland.  It  was  his  mishap,  in  the  course 
of  his  voyage,  to  fall  into  the  hands  of  the  English,  and  he  was 
detained  prisoner  by  Henry  IV.,  notwithstanding  that  a  truce  ex- 
isted between  the  two  countries. 

The  intelligence  of  his  capture,  coming  in  the  train  of  many 
sorrows  and  disasters,  proved  fatal  to  his  unhappy  father. 

"The  news,"  we  are  told,  "was  brought  to  him  while  at 
supper,  and  did  so  overwhelm  him  with  grief,  that  he  was  almost 
ready  to  give  up  the  ghost  into  the  hands  of  the  servants  that 


A   EOYAL   POET.  67 

attended  him.  But  being  carried  to  his  bed-chamber,  he  ab- 
stained from  all  food,  and  in  three  days  died  of  hunger  and 
grief,  at  Rothesay."1 

James  was  detained  in  captivity  above  eighteen  years ;  but 
though  deprived  of  personal  liberty,  he  was  treated  with  the 
respect  due  to  his  rank.  Care  was  taken  to  instruct  him  in  all 
the  branches  of  useful  knowledge  cultivated  at  that  period,  and 
to  give  him  those  mental  and  personal  accomplishments  deemed 
proper  for  a  prince.  Perhaps  in  this  respect,  his  imprisonment 
was  an  advantage,  as  it  enabled  him  to  apply  himself  the  more 
exclusively  to  his  improvement,  and  quietly  to  imbibe  that  rich 
fund  of  knowledge,  and  to  cherish  those  elegant  tastes,  which 
have  given  such  a  lustre  to  his  memory.  The  picture  drawn 
of  him  in  early  life,  by  the  Scottish  historians,  is  highly  capti- 
vating, and  seems  rather  the  description  of  a  hero  of  romance, 
than  of  a  character  in  real  history.  He  was  well  learnt,  we  are 
told,  "  to  fight  with  the  sword,  to  joust,  to  tournay,  to  wrestle, 
to  sing  and  dance  ;  he  was  an  expert  mediciner,  right  crafty  in 
playing  both  of  lute  and  harp,  and  sundry  other  instruments  of 
music,  and  was  expert  in  grammar,  oratory,  and  poetry."  2 

With  this  combination  of  manly  and  delicate  accomplish- 
ments, fitting  him  to  shine  both  in  active  and  elegant  life,  and 
calculated  to  give  him  an  intense  relish  for  joyous  existence,  it 
must  have  been  a  severe  trial,  in  an  age  of  bustle  and  chivalry, 
to  pass  the  spring-time  of  his  years  in  monotonous  captivity. 
It  was  the  good  fortune  of  James,  however,  to  be  gifted  with  a 
powerful  poetic  fancy,  and  to  be  visited  in  his  prison  by  the 
choicest  inspirations  of  the  muse.  Some  minds  corrode,  and 
grow  inactive,  under  the  loss  of  personal  liberty ;  others  grow 
morbid  and  irritable ;  but  it  is  the  nature  of  the  poet  to  become 
tender  and  imaginative  in  the  loneliness  of  confinement.  He 
banquets  upon  the  honey  of  his  own  thoughts,  and,  like  the 
captive  bird,  pours  forth  his  soul  in  melody. 

Have  you  not  seen  the  nightingale, 

A  pilgrim  coop'd  into  a  cage, 
How  doth  she  chant  her  wonted  tale, 

In  that  her  lonely  hermitage ! 

Even  there  her  charming  melody  doth  prove 
That  all  her  boughs  are  trees,  her  cage  a  grove.8 

Indeed,  it  is  the  divine  attribute  of  the  imagination,  that  it 
is  irrepressible,  unconfinable  ;  that  when  the  real  world  is  shut 

1  Buchanan.        -  Ballenden's  translation  of  Hector  Boyce.        3  Roger  L'Estrange. 


68  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

out,  it  can  create  a  world  for  itself,  and,  with  necromantic 
power,  can  conjure  up  glorious  shapes  and  forms,  and  brilliant 
visions,  to  make  solitude  populous,  and  irradiate  the  gloom  of 
the  dungeon.  Such  was  the  world  of  pomp  and  pageant  that 
lived  round  Tasso  in  his  dismal  cell  at  Ferrara,  when  he  con- 
ceived the  splendid  scenes  of  his  Jerusalem  ;  and  we  may  con- 
sider the  "King's  Quair,"1  composed  by  James  during  his 
captivity  at  Windsor,  as  another  of  those  beautiful  breakings 
forth  of  the  soul  from  the  restraint  and  gloom  of  the  prison, 
house. 

The  subject  of  the  poem  is  his  love  for  the  lady  Jane  Beau- 
fort, daughter  of  the  Earl  of  Somerset,  and  a  princess  of  fehe 
blood-royal  of  England,  of  whom  he  became  enamoured  in  the 
course  of  his  captivity.  What  gives  it  a  peculiar  value,  is,  that 
it  may  be  considered  a  transcript  of  the  royal  bard's  true  feel- 
ings, and  the  story  of  his  real  loves  and  fortunes.  It  is  not 
often  that  sovereigns  write  poetry,  or  that  poets  deal  in  fact. 
It  is  gratifying  to  the  pride  of  a  common  man,  to  find  a  mon- 
arch thus  suing,  as  it  were,  for  admission  into  his  closet,  and 
seeking  to  win  his  favor  by  administering  to  his  pleasures.  It 
is  a  proof  of  the  honest  equality  of  intellectual  competition, 
which  strips  off  all  the  trappings  of  factitious  dignity,  brings 
the  candidate  down  to  a  level  with  his  fellow-men,  and  obliges 
him  to  depend  on  his  own  native  powers  for  distinction.  It  is 
curious,  too,  to  get  at  the  history  of  a  monarch's  heart,  and  to 
find  the  simple  affections  of  human  nature  throbbing  under  the 
ermine.  But  James  had  learnt  to  be  a  poet  before  he  was  a 
king ;  he  was  schooled  in  adversity,  and  reared  in  the  company 
of  his  own  thoughts.  Monarchs  have  seldom  time  to  parley 
with  their  hearts,  or  to  meditate  their  minds  into  poetry  ;  and 
had  James  been  brought  up  amidst  the  adulation  and  gayety  of 
a  court,  we  should  never,  in  all  probability,  have  had  such  a 
poem  as  the  Quair. 

I  have  been  particularly  interested  by  those  parts  of  the  poem 
which  breathe  his  immediate  thoughts  concerning  his  situation, 
or  which  are  connected  with  the  apartment  in  the  Tower.  They 
have  thus  a  personal  and  local  charm,  and  are  given  with  such 
circumstantial  truth,  as  to  make  the  reader  present  with  the  cap- 
tive in  his  prison,  and  the  companion  of  his  meditations. 

Such  is  the  account  which  he  gives  of  his  weariness  of  spirit, 
and  of  the  incident  which  first  suggested  the  idea  of  writing  the 
poem.  It  was  the  still  mid-watch  of  a  clear  moonlight  night ; 

1  Quair,  an  old  terra  for  Book- 


A    ROYAL    POET.  69 

the  stars,  he  says,  were  twinkling  as  fire  in  the  high  vault 
of  heaven,  and  "Cynthia  rinsing  her  golden  locks  in  Aqua- 
rius" —he  lay  in  bed  wakeful  and  restless,  and  took  a  book  to 
beguile  the  tedious  hours.  The  book  he  chose  was  Boetius' 
Consolations  of  Philosophy,  a  work  popular  among  the  writers 
of  that  day,  and  which  had  been  translated  by  his  great  proto- 
type Chaucer.  From  the  high  eulogium  in  which  he  indulges, 
it  is  evident  this  was  one  of  his  favorite  volumes  while  in 
prison ;  and  indeed,  it  is  an  admirable  text-book  for  meditation 
under  adversity.  It  is  the  legacy  of  a  noble  and  enduring 
spirit,  purified  by  sorrow  and  suffering,  bequeathing  to  its  suc- 
cessors in  calamity  the  maxims  of  sweet  morality,  and  the  trains 
of  eloquent  but  simple  reasoning,  by  which  it  was 'enabled  to 
bear  up  against  the  various  ills  of  life.  It  is  a  talisman  which 
the  unfortunate  may  treasure  up  in  his  bosom,  or,  like  the  good 
King  James,  lay  upon  his  nightly  pillow. 

After  closing  the  volume,  he  turns  its  contents  over  in  his 
mind,  and  gradually  falls  into  a  fit  of  musing  on  the  fickleness 
of  fortune,  the  vicissitudes  of  his  own  life,  and  the  evils  that 
had  overtaken  him  even  in  his  tender  youth.  Suddenly  he 
hears  the  bell  ringing  to  matins,  but  its  sound  chiming  in  with 
his  melancholy  fancies,  seems  to  him  like  a  voice  exhorting  him 
to  write  his  story.  In  the  spirit  of  poetic  errantry,  he  deter- 
mines to  comply  with  this  intimation ;  he  therefore  takes  pen 
in  hand,  makes  with  it  a  sign  of  the  cross,  to  implore  a  bene- 
diction, and  sallies  forth  into  the  fairy  land  of  poetry.  There 
is  something  extremely  fanciful  in  all  this,  and  it  is  interesting 
as  furnishing  a  striking  and  beautiful  instance  of  the  simple 
manner  in  which  whole  trains  of  poetical  thought  are  sometimes 
awakened,  and  literary  enterprises  suggested  to  the  mind. 

In  the  course  of  his  poem,  he  more  than  once  bewails  the 
peculiar  hardness  of  his  fate,  thus  doomed  to  lonely  and  inac- 
tive life,  and  shut  up  from  the  freedom  and  pleasure  of  the 
world,  in  which  the  meanest  animal  indulges  unrestrained. 
There  is  a  sweetness,  however,  in  his  very  complaints ;  they 
are  the  lamentations  of  an  amiable  and  social  spirit,  at  being- 
denied  the  indulgence  of  its  kind  and  generous  propensities ; 
there  is  nothing  in  them  harsh  or  exaggerated  ;  they  flow  with 
a  natural  and  touching  pathos,  and  are  perhaps  rendered  more 
touching  by  their  simple  brevity.  They  contrast  finely  with 
those  elaborate  and  iterated  repinings  which  we  sometimes  meet 
with  in  poetry,  the  effusions  of  morbid  minds,  sickening  under 
miseries  of  their  own  creating,  and  venting  their  bitterness  upon 
an  unoffending  world.  James  speaks  of  his  privations  with 


70  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

acute  sensibility  ;  but  having  mentioned  them,  passes  on,  as  if 
his  manly  mind  disdained  to  brood  over  unavoidable  calamities. 
When  such  a  spirit  breaks  forth  into  complaint,  however  brief, 
we  are  aware  how  great  must  be  the  suffering  that  extorts  the 
murmur.  We  sympathize  with  James,  a  romantic,  active,  and 
accomplished  prince,  cut  off  in  the  lustihood  of  youth  from  all 
the  enterprise,  the  noble  uses  and  vigorous  delights  of  life,  as 
we  do  with  Milton,  alive  to  all  the  beauties  of  nature  and  glories 
of  art,  when  he  breathes  forth  brief  but  deep-toned  lamenta- 
tions  over  his  perpetual  blindness. 

Had  not  James  evinced  a  deficiency  of  poetic  artifice,  we 
might  almost  have  suspected  that  these  lowerings  of  gloomy 
reflection  were  meant  as  preparative  to  the  brightest  scene  of 
his  story,  and  to  contrast  with  that  refulgence  of  light  and  love- 
liness, that  exhilarating  accompaniment  of  bird,  and  song,  and 
foliage,  and  flower,  and  all  the  revel  of  the  year,  with  which  he 
ushers  in  the  lady  of  his  heart.  It  is  this  scene  in  particular 
which  throws  all  the  magic  of  romance  about  the  old  castle 
keep.  He  had  risen,  he  s'ays,  at  day-break,  according  to  cus- 
tom, to  escape  from  the  dreary  meditations  of  a  sleepless  pillow. 
"Bewailing  in  his  chamber  thus  alone,"  despairing  of  all  joy 
and  remedy,  "  for,  tired  of  thought,  and  wo-begone,"  he  had 
wandered  to  the  window,  to  indulge  the  captive's  miserable 
solace,  of  gazing  wistfully  upon  the  world  from  which  he  is  ex- 
cluded. The  window  looked  forth  upon  a  small  garden  which 
lay  at  the  foot  of  the  tower.  It  was  a  quiet,  sheltered  spot, 
adorned  with  arbors  and  green  alleys,  and  protected  from  the 
passing  gaze  by  trees  and  hawthorn  hedges. 

Now  was  there  made,  fast  by  the  tower's  wall 

A  garden  faire,  and  in  the  corners  set, 
An  arbour  green  with  wandis  long  and  small 

Railed  about,  and  so  with  leaves  beset 
Was  all  the  place,  and  hawthorn  hedges  knet, 

That  lyf  1  was  none,  walkyng  there  forbye, 

That  might  within  scarce  any  wight  espye. 

So  thick  the  branches  and  the  leves  grene, 

Beshaded  all  the  alleys  that  there  were, 
And  midst  of  every  arbour  might  be  sene 

The  sharpe,  grene,  swete  juniper, 
Growing  so  faire  with  branches  here  and  there, 

That  as  it  seemed  to  a  lyf  without, 

The  boughs  did  spread  the  arbour  all  about. 


person. 


A   ROYAL   POET.  71 

And  on  the  small  green  twistis '  set 

The  lytel  swete  uyghtingales,  and  sung, 
So  loud  and  clere,  the  hymnis  consecrate 

Of  lovis  use,  now  soft,  now  loud  among, 
That  all  the  garden  and  the  wallis  rung 

Ryght  of  their  song  — 

NOTE.  — The  language  of  the  quotations  is  generally  modernized. 

It  was  the  month  of  May,  when  every  thing  was  in  bloon\v 
and  he  interprets  the  song  of  the  nightingale  into  the  language 
of  his  enamoured  feeling  :  — 

Worship  all  ye  that  lovers  be  this  May; 

For  of  your  bliss  the  kalends  are  begun, 
And  sing  with  us,  away,  winter,  away, 

Come,  summer,  come,  the  sweet  season  and  sun. 

As  he  gazes  on  the  scene,  and  listens  to  the  notes  of  the 
birds,  he  gradually  relapses  into  one  of  those  tender  and  undefin- 
able  reveries,  which  fill  the  youthful  bosom  in  this  delicious 
season.  He  wonders  what  this  love  may  be,  of  which*  he  has 
so  often  read,  and  which  thus  seems  breathed  forth  in  the 
quickening  breath  of  May,  and  melting  all  nature  into  ecstasy 
and  song.  If  it  really  be  so  great  a  felicity,  and  if  it  be  a  boon 
thus  generally  dispensed  to  the  most  insignificant  beings,  why 
is  he  alone  cut  off  from  its  enjoyments  ? 

Oft  would  I  think,  O  Lord,  what  may  this  be, 

That  love  is  of  such  noble  rayght  and  kyude? 
Loving  his  folke,  and  such  prosperltee, 

Is  it  of  him,  as  we  in  books  do  find; 
May  he  oure  hertes  setten  2  and  unbynd : 
Hath  he  upon  oure  hertes  such  maistrye? 
Or  is  all  this  but  feynit  fantasye? 
For  giff  he  be  of  so  grete  excellence 

That  he  of  every  wight  hath  care  and  charge, 
What  have  I  gilt3  to  him,  or  done  offence, 

That  I  am  thral'd  and  birdis  go  at  large? 

In  the  midst  of  his  musing,  as  he  casts  his  eye  downward, 
he  beholds  "  the  fairest  and  freshest  young  floure  "  that  ever  he 
had  seen.  It  is  the  lovely  Lady  Jane,  walking  in  the  garden  to 
enjoy  the  beauty  of  that  "fresh  May  morrowe."  Breaking 
thus  suddenly  upon  his  sight  in  the  moment  of  loneliness  and 
excited  susceptibility,  sfre  at  once  captivates  the  fancy  of  the 

1  Twistis,  small  boughs  or  twigs.  2  Setten,  incline. 

3  Gilt,  what  injury  have  I  done,  etc. 


72  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

romantic   prince,    and   becomes   the    object  of   bis  wandering 
wishes,  the  sovereign  of  his  ideal  world. 

There  is  in  this  charming  scene  an  evident  resemblance  to 
the  early  part  of  Chaucer's  Knight's  Tale,  where  Palamon  and 
Arcite  fall  in  love  with  Emilia,  whom  they  see  walking  in  the 
garden  of  their  prison.  Perhaps  the  similarity  of  the  actual 
fact  to  the  incident  which  he  had  read  in  Chaucer,  may  have 
induced  James  to  dwell  on  it  in  his  poem.  His  description  of 
the  Lady  Jane  is  given  in  the  picturesque  and  minute  manner 
of  his  master,  and  being,  doubtless,  taken  from  the  life,  is  a 
perfect  portrait  of  a  beauty  of  that  day.  He  dwells  with  the 
fondness  of  a  lover  on  every  article  of  her  apparel,  from  the  net 
of  pearl,  splendent  with  emeralds  and  sapphires,  that  confined 
her  golden  hair,  even  to  the  "  goodly  chaine  of  small  orfev- 
erye  "  1  about  her  neck,  whereby  there  hung  a  ruby  in  shape  of 
a  heart,  that  seemed,  he  says,  like  a  spark  of  fire  burning  upon 
her  white  bosom.  Her  dress  of  white  tissue  was  looped  up,  to 
enable  her  to  walk  with  more  freedom.  She  was  accompanied 
by  two  female  attendants,  and  about  her  sported  a  little  hound 
decorated  with  bells,  probably  the  small  Italian  hound,  of 
exquisite  symmetry,  which  was  a  parlor  favorite  and  pet  among 
the  fashionable  dames  of  ancient  times.  James  closes  his 
description  by  a  burst  of  general  eulogium  : 

In  her  was  youth,  beauty  with  humble  port, 

Bounty,  richesse,  and  womanly  feature, 
God  better  knows  than  my  pen  can  report, 

Wisdom,  largesse,2  estate,3  and  cunning4  sure. 
In  every  point  so  guided  her  measure, 

In  word,  in  deed,  in  shape,  in  countenance, 

That  nature  might  no  more  her  child  advance. 

The  departure  of  the  Lady  Jane  from  the  garden  puts  an 
end  to  this  transient  riot  of  the  heart.  With  her  departs  the 
amorous  illusion  that  had  shed  a  temporary  charm  over  the 
scene  of  his  captivity,  and  he  relapses  into  loneliness,  now  ren- 
dered tenfold  more  intolerable  by  this  passing  beam  of  unat- 
tainable beauty.  Through  the  long  and  weary  day  he  repines 
at  his  unhappy  lot,  and  when  evening  approaches  and  Phoebus, 
as  he  beautifully  expresses  it,  had  "  bade  farewell  to  every  leaf 
and  flower,"  he  still  lingers  at  the  window,  and,  laying  his  head 
upon  the  cold  stone,  gives  vent  to  a  mingled  flow  of  love  and 
sorrow,  until,  gradually  lulled  by  the  mute  melancholy  of  the 

1  Wrought  gold.      2  Largesse,  bounty,      s  Estate,  dignity.     *  Cunning,  discretion. 


A   ROYAL  POET.  73 

twilight  hour,  he  lapses,  "half-sleeping,  half-swoon,"  into  a 
vision,  which  occupies  the  remainder  of  the  poem,  and  in  which 
is  allegorically  shadowed  out  the  history  of  his  passion. 

When  he  wakes  from  his  trance,  he  rises  from  his  stony  pil- 
low, and  pacing  his  apartment  full  of  dreary  reflections,  ques- 
tions his  spirit  whither  it  has  been  wandering  ;  whether,  indeed, 
all  that  has  passed  before  his  dreaming  fancy  has  been  conjured 
up  by  preceding  circumstances,  or  whether  it  is  a  vision  intended 
to  comfort  and  assure  him  in  his  despondency.  If  the  latter, 
he  prays  that  some  token  may  be  sent  to  confirm  the  promise 
of  happier  days,  given  him  in  his  slumbers. 

Suddenly  a  turtle-dove  of  the  purest  whiteness  comes  flying 
in  at  the  window,  and  alights  upon  his  hand,  bearing  in  her  bill 
a  branch  of  red  gilliflower,  on  the  leaves  of  which  is  written  in 
letters  of  gold,  the  following  sentence : 

Awake !  awake !  I  bring,  lover,  I  bring 

The  newis  glad,  that  blissful  is  and  sure, 
Of  thy  comfort;  now  laugh,  and  play,  and  sing, 

For  in  the  heaven  decretit  is  thy  cure. 

He  receives  the  branch  with  mingled  hope  and  dread  ;  reads 
it  with  rapture,  and  this  he  says  was  the  first  token  of  his  suc- 
ceeding happiness.  Whether  this  is  a  mere  poetic  fiction,  or 
whether  the  Lady  Jane  did  actually  send  him  a  token  of  her 
favor  in  this  romantic  way,  remains  to  be  determined  according 
to  the  faith  or  fancy  of  the  reader.  He  concludes  his  poem  by 
intimating  that  the  promise  conveyed  in  the  vision,  and  by  the 
flower,  is  fulfilled  by  his  being  restored  to  liberty,  and  made 
happy  in  the  possession  of  the  sovereign  of  his  heart. 

Such  is  the  poetical  account  given  by  James  of  his  love  ad- 
ventures in  Windsor  Castle.  How  much  of  it  is  absolute  fact, 
and  how  much  the  embellishment  of  fancy,  it  is  fruitless  to  con- 
jecture; let  us  not,  however,  reject  any  romantic  incident 
as  incompatible  with  real  life,  but  let  us  sometimes  take 
a  poet  at  his  word.  I  have  noticed  merely  those  parts  of 
the  poem  immediately  connected  with  the  tower,  and  have 
passed  over  a  large  part  written  in  the  allegorical  vein,  so 
much  cultivated  at  that  day.  The  language  of  course  is 
quaint  and  antiquated,  so  that  the  beauty  of  many  of  its  golden 
phrases  will  scarcely  be  perceived  at  the  present  day  ;  but  it  is 
impossible  not  to  be  charmed  with  the  genuine  sentiment,  the 
delightful  artlessness  and  urbanity,  which  prevail  throughout  it. 
The  descriptions  of  Nature,  too,  with  which  it  is  embellished. 


74  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

are  given  with  a  truth,  a  discrimination,  and  a  freshness,  worthy 
of  the  most  cultivated  periods  of  the  arts. 

As  an  amatory  poem,  it  is  edifying,  in  these  days  of  coarser 
thinking,  to  notice  the  nature,  refinement,  and  exquisite  delicacy 
which  pervade  it,  banishing  every  gross  thought,  or  immodest 
expression,  and  presenting  female  loveliness  clothed  in  all  its 
chivalrous  attributes  of  almost  supernatural  purity  and  grace. 

James  nourished  nearly  about  the  time  of  Chaucer  and  Gower, 
and  was  evidently  an  admirer  and  studier  of  their  writings. 
Indeed,  in  one  of  his  stanzas  he  acknowledges  them  as  his 
masters,  and  in  some  parts  of  his  poem  we  find  traces  of  simi- 
larity to  their  productions,  more  especially  to  those  of  Chaucer. 
There  are  always,  however,  general  features  of  resemblance  in 
the  works  of  contemporary  authors,  which  are  not  so  much  bor- 
rowed from  each  other  as  from  the  times.  Writers,  like  bees, 
toll  their  sweets  in  the  wide  world  ;  they  incorporate  with  their 
own  conceptions  the  anecdotes  and  thoughts  current  in  society, 
and  thus  each  generation  has  some  features  in  common, 
characteristic  of  the  age  in  which  it  lived.  James  belongs 
to  one  of  the  most  brilliant  erns  of  our  literary  history, 
and  establishes  the  claims  of  his  country  to  a  participation  in 
its  primitive  honors.  Whilst  a  small  cluster  of  English  writers 
are  constantly  cited  as  the  fathers  of  our  verse,  the  name  of 
their  great  Scottish  compeer  is  apt  to  be  passed  over  in  silence  ; 
but  he  is  evidently  worthy  of  being  enrolled  in  that  little  con- 
stellation of  remote,  but  never-failing  luminaries,  who  shine  in 
the  highest  firmament  of  literature,  and  who,  like  morning  stars, 
sang  together  at  the  bright  dawning  of  British  poesy. 

Such  of  my  readers  as  may  not  Ije  familiar  with  Scottish  his- 
tory, (though  the  manner  in  which  it  has  of  late  been  woven 
with  captivating  fiction  has  made  it  a  universal  study,)  may  be 
curious  to  learn  something  of  the  subsequent  history  of  James, 
and  the  fortunes  of  his  love.  His  passion  for  the  Lady  Jane, 
as  it  was  the  solace  of  his  captivity,  so  it  facilitated  his  release, 
it  being  imagined  by  the  Court,  that  a  connection  with  the 
blood-royal  of  England  would  attach  him  to  its  own  interests. 
He  was  ultimately  restored  to  his  liberty  and  crown,  having 
previously  espoused  the  Lady  Jane,  who"  accompanied  him  to 
Scotland,  and  made  him  a  most  tender  and  devoted  wife. 

He  found  his  kingdom  in  great  confusion,  the  feudal  chief- 
tains having  taken  advantage  of  the  troubles  and  irregularities 
of  a  long  interregnum  to  strengthen  themselves  in  their  pos- 
sessions, and  place  themselves  above  the  power  of  the  laws. 
James  sought  to  found  the  basis  of  his  power  in  the  affections 


A   ROYAL   POET.  75 

of  his  people.  He  attached  the  lower  orders  to  him  by  the 
reformation  of  abuses,  the  temperate  and  equable  administra- 
tion of  justice,  the  encouragement  of  the  arts  of  peace,  and  the 
promotion  of  every  thing  that  could  diffuse  comfort,  competency, 
and  innocent  enjoyment,  through  the  humblest  ranks  of  society. 
He  mingled  occasionally  among  the  common  people  in  disguise  ; 
visited  their  firesides ;  entered  into  their  cares,  their  pursuits, 
and  their  amusements  ;  informed  himself  of  the  mechanical  arts, 
and  how  they  could  best  be  patronized  and  improved ;  and  was 
thus  an  all-pervading  spirit,  watching  with  a  benevolent  eye 
over  the  meanest  of  his  subjects.  Having  in  this  generous 
manner  made  himself  strong  in  the  hearts  of  the  common  people, 
he  turned  himself  to  curb  the  power  of  the  factious  nobility ; 
to  strip  them  of  those  dangerous  immunities  which  they  had 
usurped  ;  to  punish  such  as  had  been  guilty  of  flagrant  offences  ; 
and  to  bring  the  whole  into  proper  obedience  to  the  crown.  For 
some  time  they  bore  this  with  outward  submission,  but  with 
secret  impatience  and  brooding  resentment.  A  conspiracy  was 
at  length  formed  against  his  life,  at  the  head  of  which  was  his 
own  uncle,  Robert  Stewart,  Earl  of  Athol,  who,  being  too  old 
himself  for  the  perpetration  of  the  deed  of  blood,  instigated  his 
grandson,  Sir  Robert  Stewart,  together  with  Sir  Robert  Graham, 
and  others  of  less  note,  to  commit  the  deed.  They  broke  into 
his  bed-chamber  at  the  Dominican  convent  near  Perth,  where 
he  was  residing,  and  barbarously  murdered  him  by  oft-repeated 
wounds.  His  faithful  queen,  rushing  to  throw  her  tender  body 
between  him  and  the  sword,  was  twice  wounded  in  the  ineffec- 
tual attempt  to  shield  him  from  the  assassin ;  and  it  was  not 
until  she  had  been  forcibly  torn  from  his  person,  that  the  murder 
was  accomplished. 

It  was  the  recollection  of  this  romantic  tale  of  former  times, 
and  of  the  golden  little  poem,  which  had  its  birth-place  in  this 
tower,  that  made  me  visit  the  old  pile  with  more  than  common 
interest.  The  suit  of  armor  hanging  up  in  the  hall,  richly  gilt 
and  embellished,  as  if  to  figure  in  the  tournay,  brought  the 
image  of  the  gallant  and  romantic  prince  vividly  before  my 
imagination.  I  paced  the  deserted  chambers  where  he  had 
composed  his  poem ;  I  leaned  upon  the  window,  and  endeav- 
ored to  persuade  myself  it  was  the  very  one  where  he  had 
been  visited  by  his  vision ;  I  looked  out  upon  the  spot  where 
he  had  first  seen  the  Lady  Jane.  It  was  the  same  genial  and 
joyous  month :  the  birds  were  again  vying  with  each  other  in 
strains  of  liquid  melody :  every  thing  was  bursting  into  vegeta- 
tion, and  budding  forth  the  tender  promise  of  the  year.  Time, 


76  'JLHE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

which  delights  to  obliterate  the  sterner  memorials  of  human 
pride,  seems  to  have  passed  lightly  over  this  little  scene  of 
poetry  and  love,  and  to  have  withheld  his  desolating  hand. 
Several  centuries  have  gone  by,  yet  the  garden  still  flourishes 
at  the  foot  of  the  tower.  It  occupies  what  was  once  the  moat 
of  the  keep,  and  though  some  parts  have  been  separated  by 
dividing  walls,  yet  others  have  still  their  arbors  and  shaded 
walks,  as  in  the  days  of  James ;  and  the  whole  is  sheltered, 
blooming,  and  retired.  There  is  a  charm  about  a  spot  thr.t 
has  been  printed  by  the  footsteps  of  departed  beauty,  and  con^ 
secrated  by  the  inspirations  of  the  poet,  which  is  heightened, 
rather  than  impaired,  by  the  lapse  of  ages.  It  is,  indeed,  the 
gift  of  poetiy,  to  hallow  every  place  in  which  it  moves ;  to 
breathe  round  nature  an  odor  more  exquisite  than  the  perfume 
of  the  rose,  and  to  shed  over  it  a  tint  more  magical  than  the 
blush  of  morning. 

Others  may  dwell  on  the  illustrious  deeds  of  James  as  a  war- 
rior and  a  legislator  ;  but  I  have  delighted  to  view  him  merely  as 
the  companion  of  his  fellow-men,  the  benefactor  of  the  human 
heart,  stooping  from  his  high  estate  to  sow  the  sweet  flowers  of 
poetry  and  song  in  the  paths  of  common  life.  He  was  the  first 
to  cultivate  the  vigorous  and  hardy  plant  of  Scottish  genius, 
which  has  since  been  so  prolific  of  the  most  wholesome  and 
highly  flavored  fruit.  He  carried  with  him  into  the  sterner  re- 
gions of  the  north,  all  the  fertilizing  arts  of  southern  refinement. 
He  did  every  thing  in  his  power  to  win  his  countrymen  to  the 
gay,  the  elegant,  and  gentle  arts  which  soften  and  refine  the 
character  of  a  people,  and  wreathe  a  grace  round  the  loftiness 
of  a  proud  and  warlike  spirit.  He  wrote  many  poems,  which, 
unfortunately  for  the  fulness  of  his  fame,  are  now  lost  to  the 
world ;  one,  which  is  still  preserved,  called  "  Christ's  Kirk  of 
the  Green,"  shows  how  diligently  he  had  made  himself  ac- 
quainted with  the  rustic  sports  and  pastimes,  which  constitute 
such  a  source  of  kind  and  social  feeling  among  the  Scottish  peas- 
antry ;  and  with  what  simple  and  happy  humor  he  could  enter 
into  their  enjoyments.  He  contributed  greatly  to  improve  the 
national  music ;  and  traces  of  his  tender  sentiment  and  elegant 
taste  are  said  to  exist  in  those  witching  airs,  still  piped  among 
the  wild  mountains  and  lonely  glens  of  Scotland.  He  has  thus 
connected  his  image  with  whatever  is  most  gracious  and  endear- 
ing in  the  national  character ;  he  has  embalmed  his  memory  in 
song,  and  floated  his  name  down  to  after-ages  in  the  rich  streams 
of  Scottish  melody.  The  recollection  of  these  things  was  kin- 
dling at  my  heart,  as  I  paced  the  silent  scene  of  his  imprison- 


THE  COUNTRY  CHURCH.  77 

ment.  I  have  visited  Vaticluse  with  as  much  enthusiasm  as  a 
pilgrim  would  visit  the  shrine  at  Loretto ;  but  I  have  never  felt 
more  poetical  devotion  than  when  contemplating  the  old  tower 
and  the  little  garden  at  Windsor,  and  musing  over  the  romantic 
loves  of  the  Lady  Jane,  and  the  Royal  Poet  of  Scotland. 


THE   COUNTRY   CHURCH. 

A  gentleman ! 

What,  o' the  woolpack?  or  the  sugar-chest? 
Or  lists  of  velvet?  which  is't,  pound,  or  yard, 
You  vend  your  gentry  by  ?— BEGGAR'S  BUSH. 

THERE  are  few  places  more  favorable  to  the  study  of  char- 
acter than  an  English  country  church.  I  was  once  passing  a 
few  weeks  at  the  seat  of  a  friend,  who  resided  in  the  vicinity 
of  one,  the  appearance  of  which  particularly  struck  my  fancy. 
It  was  one  of  those  rich  morsels  of  quaint  antiquity,  which  give 
such  a  peculiar  charm  to  English  landscape.  It  stood  in  the 
midst  of  a  county  filled  with  ancient  families,  and  contained, 
within  its  cold  and  silent  aisles,  the  congregated  dust  of  many 
noble  generations.  The  interior  walls  were  encrusted  with 
monuments  of  every  age  and  style.  The  light  streamed  through 
windows  dimmed  with  armorial  bearings,  richly  emblazoned  in 
stained  glass.  In  various  parts  of  the  church  were  tombs  of 
knights,  and  high-born  dames,  of  gorgeous  workmanship,  with 
their  effigies  in  colored  marble.  On  every  side,  the  eye  was 
struck  with  some  instance  of  aspiring  mortality  ;  some  haughty 
memorial  which  human  pride  had  erected  over  its  kindred  dust, 
in  this  temple  of  the  most  humble  of  all  religions. 

The  congregation  was  composed  of  the  neighboring  people 
of  rank,  who  sat  in  pews  sumptuously  lined  and  cushioned, 
furnished  with  richly-gilded  prayer-books,  and  decorated  with 
their  arms  upon  the  pew  doors  ;  of  the  villagers  and  peasantry, 
who  filled  the  back  seats,  and  a  small  gallery  beside  the  organ ; 
and  of  the  poor  of  the  parish,  who  were  ranged  on  benches  in 
the  aisles. 

The  service  was  performed  b}'  a  snuffling,  well-fed  vicar,  who 
had  a  snug  dwelling  near  the  church.  He  was  a  privileged 
guest  at  all  the  tables  of  the  neighborhood,  and  had  been  the 
keenest  fox-hunter  in  the  country,  until  age  and  good  living 
had  disabled  him  from  doing  any  thing  more  than  ride  to  see 
the  hounds  throw  off,  and  make  one  at  the  hunting  dinner. 


78  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Under  the  ministry  of  such  a  pastor.  I  found  it  impossible  to 
get  into  the  train  of*  thought  suitable  to  the  time  and  place  ;  so 
having,  like  many  other  feeble  Christians,  compromised  with 
my  conscience,  by  laying  the  sin  of  my  own  delinquency  at 
another  person's  threshold,  I  occupied  myself  by  making  obser- 
vations on  my  neighbors. 

I  was  as  yet  a  stranger  in  England,  and  curious  to  notice  the 
manners  of  its  fashionable  classes.  I  found,  as  usual,  that 
there  was  the  least  pretension  where  there  was  the  most  ac- 
knowledged title  to  respect.  I  was  particularly  struck,  for 
instance,  with  the  family  of  a  nobleman  of  high  rank,  consist- 
ing of  several  sons  and  daughters.  Nothing  could  be  more 
simple  and  unassuming  than  their  appearance.  They  generally 
came  to  church  in  the  plainest  equipage,  and  often  on  foot. 
'The  young  ladies  would  stop  and  converse  in  the  kindest  man- 
ner with  the  peasantry,  caress  the  children,  and  listen  to  the 
stories  of  the  humble  cottagers.  Their  countenances  were  open 
and  beautifully  fair,  with  an  expression  of  high  refinement,  but 
at  the  same  time,  a  frank  cheerfulness,  and  engaging  affability. 
Their  brothers  were  tall,  and  elegantly  formed.  They  were 
dressed  fashionably,  but  simply  ;  with  strict  neatness  and  pro- 
priety, but  without  any  mannerism  or  foppishness.  Their  whole 
demeanor  was  easy  and  natural,  with  that  lofty  grace,  and 
noble  frankness,  which  bespeak  free-born  souls  that  have  never 
been  checked  in  their  growth  by  feelings  of  inferiority.  There 
is  a  healthful  hardiness  about  real  dignity,  that  never  dreads 
contact  and  communion  with  others,  however  humble.  It  is 
only  spurious  pride  that  is  morbid  and  sensitive,  and  shrinks 
from  every  touch.  I  was  pleased  to  see  the  manner  in  which 
they  would  converse  with  the  peasantry  about  those  rural  con- 
cerns and  field  sports,  in  which  the  gentlemen  of  this  country 
so  much  delight.  In  these  conversations,  there  was  neither 
haughtiness  on  the  one  part,  nor  servility  on  the  other ;  and  you 
were  only  reminded  of  the  difference  of  rank  by  the  habitual 
respect  of  the  peasant. 

In  contrast  to  these,  was  the  family  of  a  wealthy  citizen, 
who  had  amassed  a  vast  fortune,  and,  having  purchased  the 
estate  and  mansion  of  a  ruined  nobleman  in  the  neighborhood, 
was  endeavoring  to  assume  all  the  style  and  dignity  of  an  heredi- 
tary lord  of  the  soil.  The  family  always  came  to  church  en 
prince.  They  were  rolled  majestically  along  in  a  carriage  embla- 
zoned with  arms.  The  crest  glittered  in  silver  radiance  from 
every  part  of  the  harness  where  a  crest  could  possibly  be  placed. 
A  fat  coachman  in  a  three-cornered  hat,  richly  laced,  and  a  flaxen 


THE  COUNTRY  CHURCH.  79 

wig,  curling  close  round  his  rosy  face,  was  seated  on  the  box, 
with  a  sleek  Danish  dog  beside  him.  Two  footmen  in  gorgeous 
liveries,  with  huge  bouquets,  and  gold-headed  canes,  lolled  be- 
hind. The  carriage  rose  and  sunk  on«  its  long  springs  with  a 
peculiar  stateliness  of  motion.  The  very  horses  champed  their 
bits,  arched  their  necks,  and  glanced  their  eyes  more  proudly 
than  common  horses ;  either  because  they  had  caught  a  little  of 
the  family  feeling,  or  were  reined  up  more  tightly  than  ordi- 
nary. 

I  could  not  but  admire  the  style  with  which  this  splendid 
pageant  was  brought  up  to  the  gate  of  the  churchyard.  There 
was  a  vast  effect  produced  at  the  turning  of  an  angle  of  the 
wall ;  —  a  great  smacking  of  the  whip ;  straining  and  scram- 
bling of  horses ;  glistening  of  harness,  and  flashing  of  wheels 
through  gravel.  This  was  the  moment  of  triumph  and  vain- 
glory to  the  coachman.  The  horses  were  urged  and  checked, 
until  they  were  fretted  into  a  foam.  They  threw  out  their  feet 
in  a  prancing  trot,  dashing  about  pebbles  at  every  step.  The 
crowd  of  villagers  sauntering  quietly  to  church,  opened  precipi- 
tately to  the  right  and  left,  gaping  in  vacant  admiration.  On 
reaching  the  gate,  the  horses  were  pulled  up  with  a  suddenness 
that  produced  an  immediate  stop,  and  almost  threw  them  on 
their  haunches. 

There  was  an  extraordinary  hurry  of  the  footmen  to  alight, 
pull  down  the  steps,  and  prepare  every  thing  for  the  de- 
scent on  earth  of  this  august  family.  The  old  citizen 
first  emerged  his  round  red  face  from  out  the  door,  looking 
about  him  with  the  pompous  air  of  a  man  accustomed  to  rule 
on  'change,  and  shake  the  stock-market  with  a  nod.  His  con- 
sort, a  fine,  fleshy,  comfortable  clame,  followed  him.  There 
seemed,  I  must  confess,  but  little  pride  in  her  composition.  She 
was  the  picture  of  broad,  honest,  vulgar  enjoyment.  The  world 
went  well  with  her ;  and  she  liked  the  world.  She  had  fine 
clothes,  a  fine  house,  a  fine  carriage,  fine  children,  every  thing 
was  fine  about  her  :  it  was  nothing  but  driving  about,  and  visit- 
ing and  feasting.  Life  was  to  her  a  perpetual  revel;  it  was 
one  long  Lord  Mayor's  day. 

Two  daughters  succeeded  to  this  goodly  couple.  They  cer- 
tainly were  handsome  ;  but  had  a  supercilious  air  that  chilled 
admiration,  and  disposed  the  spectator  to  be  critical.  They 
were  ultra-fashionable  in  dress,  and,  though  no  one  could  deny 
the  richness  of  their  decorations,  yet  their  appropriateness 
might  be  questioned  amidst  the  simplicity  of  a  country  church. 
They  descended  loftily  from  the  carriage,  and  moved  up  the 


80  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

line  of  peasantry  with  a  step  that  seemed  dainty  of  the  soil  it 
trod  on.  They  cast  an  excursive  glance  around,  that  passed 
coldly  over  the  burly  faces  of  the  peasantry,  until  they  met  the 
eyes  of  the  nobleman's  family,  when  their  countenances  imme- 
diately brightened  into  smiles,  and  they  made  the  most  profound 
and  elegant  courtesies,  which  were  returned  in  a  manner  that 
showed  they  were  but  slight  acquaintances. 

I  must  not  forget  the  two  sons  of  this  aspiring  citizen,  who 
came  to  church  in  a  dashing  curricle,  with  outriders.  They  were 
arrayed  in  the  extremity  of  the  mode,  with  all  that  pedantry  of 
dress  which  marks  the  man  of  questionable  pretensions  to  style. 
They  kept  entirely  by  themselves,  eying  every  one  askance 
that  came  near  them,  as  if  measuring  his  claims  to  respecta- 
bility ;  yet  they  were  without  conversation,  except  the  exchange 
of  an  occasional  cant  phrase.  They  even  moved  artificially, 
for  their  bodies,  in  compliance  with  the  caprice  of  the  day,  had 
been  disciplined  into  the  absence  of  all  ease  and  freedom.  Art 
had  done  every  thing  to  accomplish  them  as  men  of  fashion, 
but  Nature  had  denied  them  the  nameless  grace.  They  were 
vulgarly  shaped,  like  men  formed  for  the  common  purposes  of 
life,  and  had  that  air  of  supercilious  assumption  which  is  never 
seen  in  the  true  gentleman. 

I  have  been  rather  minute  in  drawing  the  pictures  of  these 
two  families,  because  I  considered  them  specimens  of  what  is 
often  to  be  met  with  in  this  country  —  the  unpretending  great, 
and  the  arrogant  little.  I  have  no  respect  for  titled  rank, 
unless  it  be  accompanied  with  true  nobility  of  soul ;  but  I  have 
•remarked,  in  all  countries  where  artificial  distinctions  exist, 
that  the  very  highest  classes  are  always  the  most  courteous 
and  unassuming.  Those  who  are  well  assured  of  their  own 
standing,  are  least  apt  to  trespass  on  that  of  others :  whereas, 
nothing  is  so  offensive  as  the  aspirings  of  vulgarity,  which 
thinks  to  elevate  itself  by  humiliating  its  neighbor. 

As  I  have  brought  these  families  into  contrast,  I  must  notice 
their  behavior  in  church.  That  of  the  nobleman's  family  was 
quiet,  serious,  and  attentive.  Not  that  they  appeared  to  have 
any  fervor  of  devotion,  but  rather  a  respect  for  sacred  things, 
and  sacred  places,  inseparable  from  good-breeding.  The  others, 
on  the  contrary,  were  in  a  perpetual  flutter  and  whisper ;  they 
betrayed  a  continual  consciousness  of  finery,  and  a  sorry  ambition 
of  being  the  wonders  of  a  rural  congregation. 

The  old  gentleman  was  the  only  one  really  attentive  to  the 
service.  He  took  the  whole  burden  of  family  devotion  upon 
himself ;  standing  bolt  upright,  and  uttering  the  responses  with 


THE  WIDOW  AND  HER   SON.  81 

a  l6ud  voice  that  might  be  heard  all  over  the  church.  It  was 
evident  that  he  was  one  of  those  thorough  church  and  king 
men,  who  connect  the  idea  of  devotion  and  loyalty ;  who  con- 
sider the  Deity,  somehow  or  other,  of  the  government  party, 
and  religion  "  a  very  excellent  sort  of  thing,  that  ought  to  be 
countenanced  and  kept  up." 

When  he  joined  so  loudly  in  the  service,  it  seemed  more  by 
way  of  example  to  the  lower  orders,  to  show  them,  that  though 
so  great  and  wealthy,  he  was  not  above  being  religious ;  as  I 
have  seen  a  turtle-fed  alderman  swallow  publicly  a  basin  of 
charity  soup,  smacking  his  lips  at  every  mouthful,  and  pro- 
nouncing it  ;t  excellent  food  for  the  poor." 

When  the  service  was  at  an  end,  I  was  curious  to  witness  the 
several  exits  of  my  groups.  The  young  noblemen  and  their 
sisters,  as  the  day  was  fine,  preferred  strolling  home  across  the 
fields,  chatting  with  the  country  people  as  they  went.  The 
others  departed  as  they  came,  in  grand  parade.  Again  were 
the  equipages  wheeled  up  to  the  gate.  There  was  regain  the 
smacking  of  whips,  the  clattering  of  hoofs,  and  the  glittering 
of  harness.  The  horses  started  off  almost  at  a  bound ;  the 
villagers  again  hurried  to  right  and  left ;  the  wheels  threw  up  a 
cloud  of  dust,  and  the  aspiring  family  was  rapt  out  of  sight  in 
a  whirlwind. 


THE  WIDOW  AND  HER  SON. 

Pittie  olde  age,  within  whose  silver  haires 
Honour  and  reverence  evermore  have  rain'd. 

MARLOWE'S  TAMBURLAINE. 

THOSE  who  are  in  the  habit  of  remarking  such  matters  must  have 
noticed  the  passive  quiet  of  an  English  landscape  on  Sunday.  The 
clacking  of  the  mill,  the  regularly  recurring  stroke  of  the  flail,  the 
din  of  the  blacksmith's  hammer,  the  whistling  of  the  ploughman, 
the  rattling  of  the  cart,  and  all  other  sounds  of  rural  labor  are  sus- 
pended. The  very  farmdogs  bark  less  frequently,  being  less  dis- 
turbed by  passing  travellers.  At  such  times  I  have  almost  fancied 
the  winds  sunk  into  quiet,  and  that  the  sunny  landscape,  with  its 
fresh  green  tints  melting  into  blue  haze,  enjoyed  the  hallowed  calm. 

Sweet  day,  so  pure,  so  calm,  so  bright, 
The  bridal  of  the  earth  and  sky. 

Well  was  it  ordained  that  the  day  of  devotion  should  be  a  day  of  rest. 
The  holy  repose  which  reigns  over  the  face  of  Nature  has  its  moral 
influence ;  every  restless  passion  is  charmed  down,  and  we  feel  the 
natural  religion  of  the  soul  gently  springing  up  within  us.  For  my 
part,  there  are  feelings  that  visit  me  in  a  country  church,  amid  the 
beautiful  serenity  of  Nature,  which  I  experience  nowhere  else ;  and 


8  2  THE  SKE  TCH-B  0  OK. 

if  not  a  more  religious,  I  think  I  am  a  better,  man  on  Sunday  than 
on  any  other  day  of  the  seven. 

During  my  recent  residence  in  the  country  I  used  frequently  to 
attend  at  the  old  village  church.  Its  shadowy  aisles,  its  mouldering 
monuments,  its  dark  oaken  panelling,  all  reverend  with  the  gloom  of 
departed  years,  seemed  to  fit  it  for  the  haunt  of  solemn  meditation  ; 
but,  being  in  a  wealthy,  aristocratic  neighborhood,  the  glitter  of 
fashion  penetrated  even  into  the  sanctuary,  and  I  felt  myself  continu- 
ally thrown  back  upon  the  world  by  the  frigidity  and  pomp  of  the 
poor  worms  around  me.  The  only  being  in  the  whole  congregation 
who  appeared  thoroughly  to  feel  the  humble  and  prostrate  piety  of 
a  true  Christian  was  a  poor  decrepit  old  woman  bending  under  the 
weight  of  years  and  infirmities.  She  bore  the  traces  of  something 
better  than  abject  poverty.  The  lingerings  of  decent  pride  were 
visible  in  her  appearance.  Her  dress,  though  humble  in  the  extreme, 
was  scrupulously  clean.  Some  trivial  respect,  too,  had  been  awarded 
her,  for  she  did  not  take  her  seat  among  the  village  poor,  but  sat 
alone  on  the  steps  of  the  altar.  She  seemed  to  have  survived  all 
love,  all  friendship,  all  society,  and  to  have  nothing  left  her  but  the 
hopes  of  heaven.  When  I  saw  her  feebly  rising  and  bending  her 
aged  form  in  prayer,  habitually  conning  her  prayer-book,  which  her 
palsied  hand  and  failing  eyes  would  not  permit  her  to  read,  but 
which  she  evidently  knew  by  heart,  I  felt  persuaded  that  the  falter- 
ing voice  of  that  poor  woman  arose  to  heaven  far  before  the  responses 
of  the  clerk,  the  swell  of  the  organ,  or  the  chanting  of  the  choir. 

I  am  fond  of  loitering  about  country  churches  ;  and  this  was 
so  delightfully  situated,  that  it  frequently  attracted  me.  It 
stood  on  a  knoll,  round  which  a  small  stream  made  a  beautiful 
bend,  and  then  wound  its  way  through  a  long  reach  of  soft 
meadow  scenery.  The  church  was  surrounded  by  yew  trees, 
which  seemed  almost  coeval  with  itself.  Its  tall  Gothic  spire 
shot  up  lightly  from  among  them,  with  rooks  and  crows  gener- 
ally wheeling  about  it.  I  was  seated  there  one  still  sunny 
morning,  watching  two  laborers  who  were  digging  a  grave. 
They  had  chosen  one  of  the  most  remote  and  neglected  corners 
of  the  churchyard,  where,  from  the  number  of  nameless  graves 
around,  it  would  appear  that  the  indigent  and  friendless  were 
huddled  into  the  earth.  I  was  .told  that  the  new-made  grave 
was  for  the  only  son  of  a  poor  widow.  While  I  was  meditating 
on  the  distinctions  of  worldly  rank,  which  extend  thus  down 
into  the  very  dust,  the  toll  of  the  bell  announced  the  approach 
of  the  funeral.  They  were  the  obsequies  of  poverty,  with  which 
pride  had  nothing  to  do.  A  coffin  of  the  plainest  materials, 
without  pall  or  other  covering,  was  borne  by  some  of  the  vil- 
lagers. The  sexton  walked  before  with  an  air  of  cold  indiffer- 
ence. There  were  no  mock  mourners  in  the  trappings  of  affected 
woe,  but  there  was  one  real  mourner  who  feebly  tottered  after 


THE   WIDOW  AND  HER   SON.  83 

the  corpse.  It  was  the  aged  mother  of  the  deceased  —  the  poor 
old  woman  whom  I  had  seen  seated  on  the  steps  of  the  altar. 
She  was  supported  by  an  humble  friend,  who  was  endeavoring 
to  comfort  her.  A  few  of  the  neighboring  poor  had  joined  the 
train,  and  some  children  of  the  village  were  running  hand  in 
hand,  now  shouting  with  unthinking  mirth,  and  now  pausing  to 
gaze,  with  childish  curiosity,  on  the  grief  of  the  mourner. 

As  the  funeral  train  approached  the  grave,  the  parson  issued 
^from  the  church  porch,  arrayed  in  the  surplice,  with  prayer- 
;  book  in  hand,  and  attended  by  the  clerk.  The  service,  how- 
ever, was  a  mere  act  of  charity.  The  deceased  had  been  desti- 
!  tute,  and  the  survivor  was  penniless.  It  was  shuffled  through, 
therefore,  in  form,  but  coldly  and  unfeelingly.  The  well-fed 
priest  moved  but  a  few  steps  from  the  church  door ;  his  voice 
could  scarcely  be  heard  at  the  grave  ;  and  never  did  I  hear  the 
funeral  service,  that  sublime  and  touching  ceremony,  turned 
into  such  a  frigid  mummer^v  of  words. 

I  approached  the  grave.  The  coffin  was  placed  on  the 
ground.  On  it  were  inscribed  the  name  and  age  of  the 
deceased  —  "George  Somers,  aged  26  years."  The  poor 
mother  had  been  assisted  to  kneel  down  at  the  head  of  it.  Her 
withered  hands  were  clasped,  as  if  in  prayer ;  but  I  could  per- 
ceive, by  a  feeble  rocking  of  the  body,  and  a  convulsive  motion 
of  the  lips,  that  she  was  gazing  on  the  last  relics  of  her  son 
with  the  yearnings  of  a  mother's  heart. 

Preparations  were  made  to  deposit  the  coffin  in  the  earth. 
There  was  that  bustling  stir,  which  breaks  so  harshly  on  the 
feelings  of  grief  and  affection :  directions  given  in  the  cold 
tones  of  business  ;  the  striking  of  spades  into  sand  and  gravel  ; 
which,  at  the  grave  of  those  we  love,  is  of  all  sounds  the  most 
withering.  The  bustle  around  seemed  to  waken  the  mother  from 
a  wretched  reverie.  She  raised  her  glazed  eyes,  and  looked 
about  with  a  faint  wildness.  As  the  men  approached  with  cords 
to  lower  the  coffin  into  the  grave,  she  wrung  her  hands,  and 
broke  into  an  agony  of  grief.  The  poor  woman  who  attended 
her,  took  her  by  the  arm,  endeavoring  to  raise  her  from  the  earth, 
and  to  whisper  something  like  consolation  —  "  Nay,  now  —  nay, 
now  —  don't  take  it  so  sorely  to  heart."  She  could  only  shake 
her  head,  and  wring  her  hands,  as  one  not  to  be  comforted. 

As  they  lowered  the  body  into  the  earth,  the  creaking  of  the 
cords  seemed  to  agonize  her ;  but  when,  on  some  accidental 
obstruction,  there  was  a  jostling  of  the  coffin,  all  the  tenderness 
of  the  mother  burst  forth  ;  as  if  any  harm  could  come  to  him 
who  was  far  beyond  the  reach  of  worldly  suffering. 


84  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

I  could  see  no  more  —  my  heart  swelled  into  my  throat  —  my 
eyes  filled  with  tears  —  I  felt  as  if  I  were  acting  a  barbarous 
part  in  standing  b}'  and  gazing  idly  on  this  scene  of  maternal 
anguish.  I  wandered  to  another  part  of  the  churchyard,  where 
I  remained  until  the  funeral  train  had  dispersed. 

When  I  saw  the  mother  slowly  and  painfully  quitting  the 
grave,  leaving  behind  her  the  remains  of  all  that  was  dear  to 
her  on  earth,  and  returning  to  silence  and  destitution,  my  heart 
ached  for  her.  What,  thought  I,  are  the  distresses  of  the  rich? 
They  have  friends  to  soothe  —  pleasures  to  beguile  —  a  world 
to  divert  and  dissipate  their  griefs.  What  are  the  sorrows  of 
the  young?  Their  growing  minds  soon  close  above  the  wound 

—  their  elastic  spirits  soon  rise  beneath  the    pressure  —  their 
green  and  ductile  affections  soon  twine  around  new  objects. 
But  the  sorrows  of  the  poor,  who  have  no  outward  appliances 
to  soothe  —  the  sorrows  of  the  aged,  with  whom  life  at  best  is 
but  a  wintry  day,  and  who  can  look  for  no  aftergrowth  of  joy 

—  the  sorrows  of  a  widow,  aged,  solitary,  destitute,  mourning 
over  an  only  son  the   last   solace  of   her  years ;  —  these  are  : 
indeed  sorrows  which  make  us  feel  the  impotency  of  consolation. 

It  was  some  time  before  I  left  the  churchyard.  On  my  way 
homeward,  I  met  with  the  woman  who  had  acted  as  comforter: 
she  was  just  returning  from  accompanying  the  mother  to  her 
lonely  habitation,  and  I  drew  from  her  some  particulars  con- 
nected with  the  affecting  scene  I  had  witnessed. 

The  parents  of  the  deceased  had  resided  in  the  village  from 
childhood.  They  had  inhabited  one  of  the  neatest  cottages, 
and  by  various  rural  occupations,  and  the  assistance  of  a  small 
garden,  had  supported  themselves  creditably  and  comfortably, 
and  led  a  happy  and  a  blameless  life.  They  had  one  son,  who 
had  grown  up  to  be  the  staff  and  pride  of  their  age.  —  "Oh, 
sir!"  said  the  good  woman,  "he  was  such  a  comely  lad,  so 
sweet-tempered,  so  kind  to  every  one  around  him,  so  dutiful  to 
his  parents  !  It  did  one's  heart  good  to  see  him  of  a  Sunday, 
drest  out  in  his  best,  so  tall,  so  straight,  so  cheery,  supporting 
his  old  mother  to  church  —  for  she  was  always  fonder  of  leaning 
on  George's  arm  than  on  her  good  man's  ;  and,  poor  soul,  she 
might  well  be  proud  of  him,  for  a  finer  lad  there  was  not  in  the 
country  round." 

Unfortunately,  the  son  was  tempted,  during  a  year  of  scarcity 
and  agricultural  hardship,  to  enter  into  the  service  of  one  of. 
the  small  craft  that  plied  on  a  neighboring  river.  He  had  not 
been  long  in  this  employ,  when  he  was  entrapped  by  a  press- 
gang,  and  carried  off  to  sea.  His  parents  received  tidings  of 


THE    WIDOW  AND  HER   SON.  85 

his  seizure,  but  beyond  that  they  could  learn  nothing.  It  was 
the  loss  of  their  main  prop.  The  father,  who  was  already 
infirm,  grew  heartless  and  melancholy,  and  sunk  into  his  grave. 
The  widow,  left  lonely  in  her  age  and  feebleness,  could  no 
longer  support  herself,  and  came  upon  the  parish.  Still  there 
was  a  kind  of  feeling  toward  her  throughout  the  village,  and  a 
certain  respect  as  being  one  of  the  oldest  inhabitants.  As  no 
one  applied  for  the  cottage  in  which  she  had  passed  so  many 
happy  days,  she  was  permitted  to  remain  in  it,  where  she  lived 
solitary  and  almost  helpless.  The  few  wants  of  nature  were 
chiefly  supplied  from  the  scanty  productions  of  her  little  gar- 
den, which  the  neighbors  would  now  and  then  cultivate  for  her. 
It  was  but  a  few  days  before  the  time  at  which  these  circum- 
stances were  told  me,  that  she  was  gathering  some  vegetables 
for  her  repast,  when  she  heard  the  cottage-door  which  faced  the 
garden  suddenly  opened.  A  stranger  came  out,  and  seemed  to 
be  looking  eagerly  and  wildly  around.  He  was  dressed  in  sea- 
men's clothes,  was  emaciated  and  ghastly  pale,  and  bore  the 
air  of  one  broken  by  sickness  and  hardships.  He  saw  her,  and 
hastened  toward  her,  but  his  steps  were  faint  and  faltering ;  he 
sank  on  his  knees  before  her,  and  sobbed  like  a  child.  The 
poor  woman  gazed  upon  him  with  a  vacant  and  wandering  eye 
—  "•  Oh  my  dear,  dear  mother  !  don't  you  know  your  son?  your 
poor  boy  George?"  It  was,  indeed,  the  wreck  of  her  once 
noble  lad ;  who,  shattered  by  wounds,  by  sickness,  and  foreign 
imprisonment,  had,  at  length,  dragged  his  wasted  limbs  home- 
ward, to  repose  among  the  scenes  of  his  childhood. 

I  will  not  attempt  to  detail  the  particulars  of  such  a  meeting, 
where  joy  and  sorrow  were  so  completely  blended :  still  he  was 
alive  !  —  he  was  come  home  !  —  he  might  yet  live  to  comfort 
and  cherish  her  old  age  !  Nature,  however,  was  exhausted  in 
him ;  and  if  anything  had  been  wanting  to  finish  the  work  of 
fate,  the  desolation  of  his  native  cottage  would  have  been  suf- 
ficient. He  stretched  himself  on  the  pallet  on  which  his  wid 
owed  mother  had  passed  many  a  sleepless  night,  and  he  never 
rose  from  it  again. 

The  villagers,  when  they  heard  that  George  Somers  had  re- 
turned, crowded  to  see  him,  offering  every  comfort  and  assist- 
ance that  their  humble  means  afforded.  He  was  too  weak, 
however,  to  talk  — he  could  only  look  his  thanks.  His  mother 
was  his  constant  attendant ;  and  he  seemed  unwilling  to  be 
helped  by  any  other  hand. 

There  is  something  in  sickness  that  breaks  down  the  pride  of 
manhood ;  that  softens  the  heart,  and  brings  it  back  to  the  feel- 


86  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

ings  of  infancy.  Who  that  has  languished,  even  in  advanced 
life,  in  sickness  and  despondency  ;  who  that  has  pined  on  a 
weary  bed  in  the  neglect  and  loneliness  of  a  foreign  land  ;  but 
has  thought  on  the  mother  "  that  looked  on  his  childhood,"  that 
smoothed  his  pillow,  and  administered  to  his  helplessness  ?  Oh ! 
there  is  an  enduring  tenderness  in  the  love  of  a  mother  to  a 
son,  that  transcends  all  other  affections  of  the  heart.  It  is 
neither  to  be  chilled  by  selfishness,  nor  daunted  by  danger,  nor 
weakened  by  worthlessness,  nor  stifled  by  ingratitude.  She 
will  sacrifice  every  comfort  to  his  convenience  ;  she  will  surrren- 
der  every  pleasure  to  his  enjoyment ;  she  will  glory  in  his  fame, 
and  exult  in  his  prosperity  ;  —  and,  if  misfortune  overtake  him, 
he  will  be  the  dearer  to  her  from  misfortune ;  and  if  disgrace 
settle  upon  his  name,  she  will  still  love  and  cherish  him  in  spite 
of  his  disgrace  ;  and  if  all  the  world  beside  cast  him  off,  she 
will  be  all  the  world  to  him. 

Poor  George  Somers  had  known  what  it  was  to  be  in  sick- 
ness, and  none  to  soothe  —  lonely  and  in  prison,  and  none  to 
visit  him.  He  could  not  endure  his  mother  from  his  sight ;  if 
she  moved  away,  his  eye  would  follow  her.  She  would  sit  for 
hours  by  his  bed,  watching  him  as  he  slept.  Sometimes  he 
would  start  from  a  feverish  dream,  and  look  anxiously  up  until 
he  saw  her  bending  over  him,  when  he  would  take  her  hand,  lay 
it  on  his  bosom,  and  fall  asleep  with  the  tranquillity  of  a  child. 
In  this  way  he  died. 

My  first  impulse,  on  hearing  this  humble  tale  of  affliction,  was 
to  visit  the  cottage  of  the  mourner,  and  administer  pecuniary 
assistance,  and,  if  possible,  comfort.  I  found,  however,  on 
inquiry,  that  the  good  feelings  of  the  villagers  had  prompted 
them  to  do  every  thing  that  the  case  admitted ;  and  as  the  poor 
know  best  how  to  console  each  other's  sorrows,  I  did  not  ven- 
ture to  intrude. 

The  next  Sunday  I  was  at  the  village  church ;  when,  to  my 
surprise,  I  saw  the  poor  old  woman  tottering  down  the  aisle  to 
her  accustomed  seat  on  the  steps  of  the  altar. 

She.  had  made  an  effort  to  put  on  something  like  mourning 
for  her  son;  and  nothing  could  be  more  touching  than  this 
struggle  between  pious  affection  and  utter  poverty:  a  black 
ribbon  or  so  —  a  faded  black  handkerchief  —  and  one  or  two 
more  such  humble  attempts  to  express  by  outward  signs  that 
grief  which  passes  show. — When  I  looked  round  upon  the 
storied  monuments,  the  stately  hatchments,  the  cold  marble 
pomp,  with  which  grandeur  mourned  magnificently  over  de- 
parted pride,  and  turned  to  this  poor  widow,  bowed  down  Dy 


THE  HOAR'S  HEAD   TAVERN,   EASTCHEAP.         87 

age  and  sorrow  at  the  altar  of  her  God,  and  offering  up  the 
prayers  and  praises  of  a  pious,  though  a  broken  heart,  I  felt 
that  this  living  monument  of  real  grief  was  worth  them  all. 

I  related  her  story  to  some  of  the  wealthy  members  of  the 
congregation,  and  they  were  moved  by  it.  They  exerted  them- 
selves to  render  her  situation  more  comfortable,  and  to  lighten 
her  afflictions.  It  was,  however,  but  smoothing  a  few  steps  to 
the  grave.  In  the  course  of  a  Sunday  or  two  after,  she  was 
missed  from  her  usual  seat  at  church,  and  before  I  left  the 
neighborhood,  I  heard,  with  a  feeling  of  satisfaction,  that  she 
had  quietly  breathed  her  last,  and  had  gone  to  rejoin  those  she 
loved,  in  that  world  where  sorrow  is  never  known,  and  friends 
are  never  parted. 


THE  BOAR'S  HEAD  TAVERN,  EASTCHEAP. 

A   SHAKSPEARIAN    RESEARCH. 

"  A  tavern  is  the  rendezvous,  the  exchange,  the  staple  of  good  fellows.  I  have  heard 
ray  great-grandfather  tell,  how  his  great-great-grandfather  should  say,  that  it  was  an  old 
proverb  when  his  great-grandfather  was  a  child,  that  '  it  was  a  good  wind  that  blew  a 
man  to  the  wine.'  "  —  MOTHER  BOMBIE. 

IT  is  a  pious  custom,  in  some  Catholic  countries,  to  honor  the 
memory  of  saints  by  votive  lights  burnt  before  their  pictures. 
The  popularity  of  a  saint,  therefore,  may  be  known  by  the 
number  of  these  offerings.  One,  perhaps,  is  left  to  moulder  in 
the  darkness  of  his  little  chapel ;  another  may  have  a  solitary 
lamp  to  throw  its  blinking  rays  athwart  his  effigy ;  while  the 
whole  blaze  of  adoration  is  lavished  at  the  shrine  of  some  beati- 
fied father  of  renown.  The  wealthy  devotee  brings  his  huge 
luminary  of  wax  ;  the  eager  zealot,  his  seven-branched  candle- 
stick ;  and  even  the  mendicant  pilgrim  is  by  no  means  satisfied 
that  sufficient  light  is  thrown  upon  the  deceased,  unless  he  hangs 
up  his  little  lamp  of  smoking  oil.  The  consequence  is,  that  in  the 
eagerness  to  enlighten,  they  are  often  apt  to  obscure ;  and  I 
have  occasionally  seen  an  unlucky  saint  almost  smoked  out  of 
countenance  by  the  officiousness  of  his  followers. 

In  like  manner  has  it  fared  with  the  immortal  Shakspeare. 
Ever}*  writer  considers  it  his  bounden  duty,  to  light  up  some 
portion  of  his  character  or  works,  and  to  rescue  some  merit 
from  oblivion.  The  commentator,  opulent  in  words,  produces 
vast  tomes  of  dissertations ;  the  common  herd  of  editors  send 


88  THE   SKETCH-BOOK. 

up  mists  of  obscurity  from  their  notes  at  the  bottom  of  each 
page ;  and  every  casual  scribbler  brings  his  farthing  rush-light 
of  eulogy  or  research,  to  swell  the  cloud  of  incense  and  of 
smoke. 

As  I  honor  all  established  usages  of  my  brethren  of  the  quill, 
I  thought  it  but  proper  to  contribute  my  mite  of  homage  to  the 
memory  of  the  illustrious  bard.  I  was  for  some  time,  however, 
sorely  puzzled  in  what  way  I  should  discharge  this  duty.  I 
found  myself  anticipated  in  every  attempt  at  a  new  reading ; 
every  doubtful  line  had  been  explained  a  dozen  different  ways, 
and  perplexed  beyond  the  reach  of  elucidation  ;  and  as  to  fine 
passages  they  had  all  been  amply  praised  by  previous  admirers  : 
nay,  so  completely  had  the  bard,  of  late,  been  overlarded  with 
panegyric  by  a  great  German  critic,  that  it  was  difficult  now  to 
find  even  a  fault  that  had  not  been  argued- into  a  beauty. 

In  this  perplexity,  I  was  one  morning  turning  over  his  pages, 
when  I  casually  opened  upon  the  comic  scenes  of  Henry  IV., 
and  was,  in  a  moment,  completely  lost  in  the  madcap  revelry 
of  the  Boar's  Head  Tavern.  So  vividly  and  naturally  are  these 
scenes  of  humor  depicted,  and  with  such  force  and  consistency 
are  the  characters  sustained,  that  they  become  mingled  up  in 
the  mind  with  the  facts  and  personages  of  real  life.  To  few 
readers  does  it  occur,  that  these  are  all  ideal  creations  of  a 
poet's  brain,  and  that,  in  sober  truth,  no  such  knot  of  merry 
roysters  ever  enlivened  the  dull  neighborhood  of  Eastcheap. 

For  my  part,  I  love  to  give  myself  up  to  the  illusions  of 
poetry.  A  hero  of  fiction  that  never  existed,  is  just  as  valuable 
to  me  as  a  hero  of  history  that  existed  a  thousand  years  since ; 
and,  if  I  may  be  excused  such  an  insensibility  to  the  common 
ties  of  human  nature,  I  would  not  give  up  fat  Jack  for  half  the 
great  men  of  ancient  chronicle.  What  have  the  heroes  of  yore 
done  for  me,  or  men  like  me?  They  have  conquered  countries 
of  which  I  do  not  enjoy  an  acre  ;  or  they  have  gained  laurels  of 
which  I  do  not  inherit  a  leaf ;  or  they  have  furnished  examples 
of  hare-brained  prowess,  which  I  have  neither  the  opportunity 
nor  the  inclination  to  follow.  But  old  Jack  Falstaff  !  —  kind 
Jack  Falstaff !  —  sweet  Jack  Falstaff !  has  enlarged  the  bound- 
aries of  human  enjoyment ;  he  has  added  vast  regions  of  wit 
and  good-humor,  in  which  the  poorest  man  may  revel ;  and  has 
bequeathed  a  never-failing  inheritance  of  jolly  laughter,  to  make 
mankind  merrier  and  better  to  the  latest  posterity. 

A  thought  suddenly  struck  me :  "I  will  make  a  pilgrimage 
to  Eastcheap,"  said  I,  closing  the  book,  "  and  see  if  the  old 
Boar's  Head  Tavern  still  exists.  Who  knows  but  I  may  light 


THE  BOAR'S  HEAD   TAVERN,   EASTCHEAP.         89 

upon  some  legendary  traces  of  Dame  Quickly  and  her  guests ; 
at  any  rate,  there  will  be  a  kindred  pleasure,  in  treading  the 
halls  once  vocal  with  their  mirth,  to  that  the  toper  enjoys  in 
smelling  to  the  empty  cask,  once  filled  with  generous  wine." 

The  resolution  was  no  sooner  formed  than  put  in  execution. 
I  forbear  to  treat  of  the  various  adventures  and  wonders  I  en- 
countered in  my  travels,  of  the  haunted  regions  of  Cock-lane  ; 
of  the  faded  glories  of  Little  Britain,  and  the  parts  adjacent ; 
what  perils  I  ran  in  Cateaton-street  and  Old  Jewry ;  of  the 
renowned  Guildhall  and  its  two  stunted  giants,  the  pride  and 
wonder  of  the  city,  and  the  terror  of  all  unlucky  urchins ;  and 
how  I  visited  London  Stone,  and  struck  my  staff  upon  it,  in 
imitation  of  that  arch-rebel,  Jack  Cade. 

Let  it  suffice  to  say,  that  I  at  length  arrived  in  merry  East- 
cheap,  that  ancient  region  of  wit  and  wassail,  where  the  very 
names  of  the  streets  relished  of  good  cheer,  as  Pudding-lane 
bears  testimony  even  at  the  present  day.  For  Eastcheap,  says 
old  Sto we,  "  was  always  famous  for  its  convivial  doings.  The 
cookes  cried  hot  ribbes  of  beef  roasted,  pies  well  baked,  and 
other  victuals  ;  there  was  clattering  of  pewter  pots,  harpe,  pipe, 
and  sawtrie."  Alas  !  how  sadly  is  the  scene  changed  since  the 
roaring  days  of  Falstaff  and  old  Stowe !  The  madcap  royster 
has  given  place  to  the  plodding  tradesman  ;  the  clattering  of 
pots  and  the  sound  of  "  harpe  and  sawtrie,"  to  the  din  of  carts 
and  the  accursed  dinging  of  the  dustman's  bell ;  and  no  song  is 
heard,  save,  haply,  the  strain  of  some  siren  from  Billingsgate, 
chanting  the  eulogy  of  deceased  mackerel. 

I  sought,  in  vain,  for  the  ancient  abode  of  Dame  Quickly. 
The  only  relic  of  it  is  a  boar's  head,  carved  in  relief  in  stone, 
which  formerly  served  as  the  sign,  but,  at  present,  is  built  into 
the  parting  line  of  two  houses  which  stand  on  the  site  of  the 
renowned  old  tavern. 

For  the  history  of  this  little  abode  of  good  fellowship,  I  was 
referred  to  a  tallow-chandler's  widow,  opposite,  who  had  been 
born  and  brought  up  on  the  spot,  and  was  looked  up  to,  as  the 
indisputable  chronicler  of  the  neighborhood.  I  found  her  seated 
in  a  little  back  parlor,  the  window  of  which  looked  out  upon  a 
yard  about  eight  feet  square,  laid  out  as  a  flower-garden  ;  while 
a  glass  door  opposite  afforded  a  distant  peep  of  the  street, 
through  a  vista  of  soap  and  tallow  candles ;  the  two  views, 
which  comprised,  in  all  probability,  her  prospects  in  life,  and 
the  little  world  in  which  she  had  lived,  and  moved,  and  had  her 
being,  for  the  better  part  of  a  century. 

To  be  versed  in  the  history  of  Eastcheap,  great  and  little, 


90  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

from  London  Stone  even  unto  the  Monument,  was,  doubtless, 
in  her  opinion,  to  be  acquainted  wiMi  the  history  of  the  uni- 
verse. Yet,  with  all  this,  she  possessed  the  simplicity  of  true 
wisdom,  and  that  liberal,  communicative  disposition,  which  I 
have  generally  remarked  in  intelligent  old  ladies,  knowing  in 
the  concerns  of  their  neighborhood. 

Her  information,  however,  did  not  extend  far  back  into 
antiquity.  She  could  throw  no  light  upon  the  history  of  the 
Boar's  Head,  from  the  time  that  Dame  Quickly  espoused  the 
valiant  Pistol,  until  the  great  fire  of  London,  when  it  was  un- 
fortunately burnt  down.  It  was  soon  rebuilt,  and  continued  to 
flourish  under  the  old  name  and  sign,  until  a  dying  landlord, 
struck  with  remorse  for  double  scores,  bad  measures,  and  other 
iniquities  which  are  incident  to  the  sinful  race  of  publicans, 
endeavored  to  make  his  peace  with  Heaven,  by  bequeathing  the 
tavern  to  St.  Michael's  church,  Crooked-lane,  toward  the  sup- 
porting of  a  chaplain.  For  some  time  the  vestry  meetings  were 
regularly  held  there  ;  but  it  was  observed  that  the  old  Boar 
never  held  up  his  head  under  church  government.  He  gradu- 
ally declined,  and  finally  gave  his  last  gasp  about  thirty  years 
since.  The  tavern  was  then  turned  into  shops ;  but  she  in- 
formed me  that  a  picture  of  it  was  still  preserved  in  St.  Michael's 
church,  which  stood  just  in  the  rear.  To  get  a  sight  of  this 
picture  was  now  nry  determination  ;  so,  having  informed  myself 
of  the  abode  of  the  sexton,  I  took  my  leave  of  the  venerable 
chronicler  of  Eastcheap,  my  visit  having  doubtless  raised  greatly 
her  opinion  of  her  legendary  lore,  and  furnished  an  important 
incident  in  the  history  of  her  life. 

It  cost  me  some  difficulty  and  much  curious  inquiry,  to 
ferret  out  the  humble  hanger-on  to  the  church.  I  had  to 
explore  Crooked-lane,  and  divers  little  alleys,  and  elbows,  and 
dark  passages,  with  which  this  old  city  is  perforated,  like  an 
ancient  cheese,  or  a  worm-eaten  chest  of  drawers.  At  length 
I  traced  him  to  a  corner  of  a  small  court,  surrounded  by  lofty 
houses,  where  the  inhabitants  enjoy  about  as  much  of  the  face 
of  heaven  as  a  community  of  frogs  at  the  bottom  of  a  well. 
The  sexton  was  a  meek,  acquiescing  little  man,  of  a  bowing, 
lowly  habit ;  yet  he  had  a  pleasant  twinkling  in  his  eye,  and  if 
encouraged,  would  now  and  then  hazard  a  small  pleasantry ; 
such  as  a  man  of  his  low  estate  might  venture  to  make  in  the 
company  of  high  church  wardens,  and  other  mighty  men  of 
the  earth.  I  found  him  in  company  with  the  deputy  organist, 
seated  apart,  like  Milton's  angels  ;  discoursing,  no  doubt,  on 
high  doctrinal  points,  and  settling  the  affairs  of  the  church 


THE  BOAR'S   HEAD   TAVERN,   EASTCHEAP.'       91 

over  a  friendly  pot  of  ale ;  for  the  lower  classes  of  English 
seldom  deliberate  on  an}'  weighty  matter  without  the  assist- 
ance of  a  cool  tankard  to  clear  their  understandings.  I  arrived 
at  the  moment  when  they  had  finished  their  ale  and  their  argu- 
ment, and  were  about  to  repair  to  the  church  to  put  il^in  order ; 
so,  having  made  known  my  wishes,  I  received  their  gracious 
permission  to  accompany  them. 

The  church  of  St.  Michael's,  Crooked-lane,  standing  a  short 
distance  from  Billingsgate,  is  enriched  with  the  tombs  of  many 
fishmongers  of  renown  ;  and  as  every  profession  has  its  galaxy 
of  glory,  and  its  constellation  of  great  men,  I  presume  the 
monument  of  a  mighty  fishmonger  of  the  olden  time  is  re- 
garded with  as  much  reverence  by  succeeding  generations  of 
the  craft,  as  poets  feel  on  contemplating  the  tomb  of  Virgil, 
or  soldiers  the  monument  of  a  Marlborough  or  Turenne. 

I  cannot  but  turn  aside,  while  thus  speaking  of  illustrious 
men,  to  observe  that  St.  Michael's,  Crooked-lane,  contains 
also  the  ashes  of  that  doughty  champion,  William  Walworth, 
Knight,  who  so  manfully  clove  down  the  sturdy  wight,  Wat 
Tyler,  in  Smithfield ;  a  hero  worthy  of  honorable  blazon,  as 
almost  the  only  Lord  Mayor  on  record  famous  for  deeds  of 
arms ;  the  sovereigns  of  Cockney  being  generally  renowned  as 
the  most  pacific  of  all  potentates.1 

Adjoining  the  church,  in  a  small  cemetery,  immediately 
under  the  back  window  of  what  was  once  the  Boar's  Head, 
stands  the  tombstone  of  Robert  Preston,  whilom  drawer 'at  the 
tavern.  It  is  now  nearly  a  century  since  this  trusty  drawer 
of  good  liquor  closed  his  bustling  career,  and  was  thus  quietly 
deposited  within  call  of  his  customers.  As  I  was  clearing  away 

1  The  following  was  the  ancient  inscription  on  the  monument  of  this  worthy, 
n'hich,  unhappily,  was  destroyed  in  the  great  conflagration. 

Hereunder  lyth  a  man  of  fame, 
William  Walworth  callyvd  by  name; 
Fishmonger  he  was  in  lyfftime  here, 
And  twise  Lord  Maior,  as  in  books  appeare; 
Who,  with  courage  stout  and  manly  myght, 
Slew  Jack  Straw  in  Kyng  Richard's  sight, 
For  which  act  done,  and  trew  entent, 
The  Kyng  made  him  Knyght  incontinent; 
And  gave  him  armes,  as  here  you  see, 
To  declare  his  fact  and  chivaldrie : 
He  left  this  lyff  the  yere  of  our  God 
Thirteen  hundred  fourscore  and  three  odd. 

An  error  in  the  foregoing  inscription  has  been  corrected  by  the  venerable  Stowe  : 
"  Whereas,"  saith  he,  "  it  hath  been  far  spread  abroad  by  vulgar  opinion,  that  the 
rebel  smitten  down  so  manfully  by  Sir  William  Walworth,  the  then  worthy  Lord 
Maior,  was  named  Jack  Straw,  and  not  Wat  Tyler,  I  thought  good  to  reconcile  this 
rash  conceived  doubt  by  such  testimony  as  I  find  in  ancient  and  good  records.  The 
principal  leaders,  or  captains  of  the  commons,  were  Wat  Tyler,  as  the  first  matt; 
the  second  was  John,  or  Jack,  Straw,  etc.,  etc."  —  STOWK'S  London. 


92      •  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

the  weeds  from  his  epitaph,  the  little  sexton  drew  me  on  one 
side  with  a  mysterious  air,  and  informed  me,  in  a  low  voice, 
that  once  upon  a  time,  on  a  dark  wintry  night,  when  the  wind 
was  unruly,  howling  and  whistling,  banging  about  doors  and 
windows,  and  twirling  weathercocks,  so  that  the  living  were 
frightened  out  of  their  beds,  and  even  the  dead  could  not  sleep 
quietly  in  their  graves,  the  ghost  of  honest  Preston,  which  hap- 
pened to  be  airing  itself  in  the  churchyard,  was  attracted  by 
the  well-known  call  of  u  waiter,"  from  the  Boar's  Head,  and 
made  its  sudden  appearance  in  the  midst  of  a  roaring  club, 
just  as  the  parish  clerk  was  singing  a  stave  from  the  "  mirre 
garland  of  Captain  Death  ;  "  to  the  discomfiture  of  sundry  train- 
band captains,  and  the  conversion  of  an  infidel  attorney,  who 
became  a  zealous  Christian  on  the  spot,  and  was  never  known 
to  twist  the  truth  afterwards,  except  in  the  way  of  business. 

I  beg  it  may  be  remembered,  that  I  do  not  pledge  myself  for 
the  authenticity  of  this  anecdote  ;  though  it  is  well  known  that 
the  churchyards  and  by-corners  of  this  old  metropolis  are  very 
much  infested  with  perturbed  spirits ;  and  every  one  must  have 
heard  of  the  Cock-lane  ghost,  and  the  apparition  that  guards 
the  regalia  in  the  Tower,  which  has  frightened  so  many  bold 
sentinels  almost  out  of  their  wits. 

Be  all  this  as  it  may,  this  Robert  Preston  seems  to  have 
been  a  worthy  successor  to  the  nimble-tongued  Francis,  who 
attended  upon  the  revels  of  Prince  Hal ;  to  have  been  equally 
prompt  with  his  "anon,  anon,  sir,"  and  to  have  transcended 
his  predecessor  in  honesty ;  for  Falstaff,  the  veracit}'  of  whose 
taste  no  man  will  venture  to  impeach,  flatly  accuses  Francis 
of  putting  lime  in  his  sack ;  whereas,  honest  Preston's  epitaph 
lauds  him  for  the  sobriety  of  his  conduct,  the  soundness  of  his 
wine,  and  the  fairness  of  his  measure.1  The  worthy  dignitaries 
of  the  church,  however,  did  not  appear  much  captivated  by 
the  sober  virtues  of  the  tapster :  the  deputy  organist,  who  had 
a  moist  look  out  of  the  eye,  made  some  shrewd  remark  on  the 

1  As  this  inscription  is  rife  with  excellent  morality,  I  transcribe  it  for  the  admo- 
nition of  delinquent  tapsters.  It  is,  no  doubt,  the  production  of  some  choice  spirit 
who  once  frequented  the  Boar's  Head. 

Bacchus,  to  give  the  toping  -world  surprise, 
Produced  one  sober  son,  and  here  he  lies. 
Though  rear'd  among  full  hogsheads,  he  defied 
The  charms  of  wine,  and  every  one  beside. 
O  reader,  if  to  justice  thou  'rt  inclined, 
Keep  honest  Preston  daily  in  thy  mind. 
He  drew  good  wine,  took  care  to  fill  his  pots, 
Had  sundry  virtues  that  excused  his  faults. 
You  that  on  Bacchus  have  the  like  dependence, 
Pray  copy  Bob,  in  measure  and  attendance. 


THE  BOAR'S   HEAD   TAVERN,   EASTCHEAP.         93 

abstemiousness  of  a  man  brought  up  among  full  hogsheads ; 
and  the  little  sexton  corroborated  his  opinion  by  a  significant 
wink,  and  a  dubious  shake  of  the  head. 

Thus  far  my  researches,  though  they  threw  much  light  on 
the  history  of  tapsters,  fishmongers,  and  Lord  Mayors,  yet  dis- 
appointed me  in  the  great  object  of  my  quest,  the  picture  of  the 
Boar's  Head  Tavern.  No  such  painting  was  to  be  found  in  the 
church  of  St.  Michael's.  "Marry  and  amen!  "  said  I,  "here 
endeth  my  research!"  So  I  was  giving  the  matter  up,  with 
the  air  of  a  baffled  antiquary,  when  my  friend  the  sexton,  per- 
ceiving me  to  be  curious  in  eVery  thing  relative  to  the  old  tav- 
ern, offered  to  show  me  the  choice  vessels  of  the  vestry,  which 
had  been  handed  down  from  remote  times,  when  the  parish 
meetings  were  held  at  the  Boar's  Head.  These  were  deposited 
in  the  parish  club-room,  which  had  been  transferred,  on  the 
decline  of  the  ancient  establishment,  to  a  tavern  in  the  neigh- 
borhood. 

A  few  steps  brought  us  to  the  house,  which  stands  No.  12, 
Miles-lane,  bearing  the  title  of  The  Mason's  Arms,  and  is  kept  by 
Master  Edward  Honey  ball,  the  "bully-rook"  of  the  establish- 
ment. It  is  one  of  those  little  taverns,  which  abound  in  the 
heart  of  the  city,  and  form  the  centre  of  gossip  and  intelligence 
of  the  neighborhood.  We  entered  the  bar-room,  which  was 
narrow  and  darkling ;  for  in  these  close  lanes  but  few  rays  of 
reflected  light  are  enabled  to  struggle  down  to  the  inhabitants, 
whose  broad  day  is  at  best  but  a  tolerable  twilight.  The  room 
was  partitioned  into  boxes,  each  containing  a  table  spread  with 
a  clean  white  cloth,  ready  for  dinner.  This  showed  that  the 
guests  were  of  the  good  old  stamp,  and  divided  their  day 
equally,  for  it  was  but  just  one  o'clock.  At  the  lower  end  of 
the  room  was  a  clear  coal  fire,  before  which  a  breast  of  lamb 
was  roasting.  A  row  of  bright  brass  candlesticks  and  pewter 
mugs  glistened  along  the  mantelpiece,  and  an  old-fashioned  clock 
ticked  in  one  corner.  There  was  something  primitive  in  this 
medley  of  kitchen,  parlor,  and  hall,  that  carried  me  back  to 
earlier  times,  and  pleased  me.  The  place,  indeed,  was  humble, 
but  every  thing  had  that  look  of  order  and  neatness  which  be- 
speaks the  superintendence  of  a  notable  English  housewife.  A 
group  of  amphibious-looking  beings,  who  might  be  either  fish- 
ermen or  sailors,  were  regaling  themselves  in  one  of  the  boxes. 
As  I  was  a  visitor  of  rather  higher  pretensions,  I  was  ushered 
into  a  little  misshapen  back  room,  having  at  least  nine  corners. 
It  was  lighted  by  a  skylight,  furnished  with  antiquated  leathern 
chairs,  and  ornamented  with  the  portrait  of  a  fat  pig.  It  was 


94  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

evidently  appropriated  to  particular  customers,  and  I  found  a 
shabby  gentleman,  in  a  red  nose,  and  oil-cloth  hat,  seated  in 
one  corner,  meditating  on  a  half -empty  pot  of  porter. 

The  old  sexton  had  taken  the  landlady  aside,  and  with  an  air 
of  profound  importance  imparted  to  her  my  errand.  Dame 
Honeyball  was  a  likely,  plump,  bustling  little  woman,  and  no 
bad  substitute  for  that  paragon  of  hostesses,  Dame  Quickly. 
She  seemed  delighted  with  an  opportunity  to  oblige  ;  and  hurry- 
ing up  stairs  to  the  archives  of  her  house,  where  the  precious 
vessels  of  the  parish  club  were  deposited,  she  returned,  smiling 
and  courtesy  ing  with  them  in  her  bands. 

The  first  she  presented  me  was  a  japanned  iron  tobacco-box, 
of  gigantic  size,  out  of  which,  I  was  told,  the  vestry  had  smoked 
at  their  stated  meetings,  since  time  immemorial ;  and  which 
was  never  suffered  to  be  profaned  by  vulgar  hands,  or  used  on 
common  occasions.  I  received  it  with  becoming  reverence ; 
but  what  was  my  delight,  at  beholding  on  its  cover  the  identical 
painting  of  which  I  was  in  quest !  There  was  displayed  the 
outside  of  the  Boar's  Head  Tavern,  and  before  the  door  was  to 
be  seen  the  whole  convivial -group,  at  table,  in  full  revel,  pic- 
tured with  that  wonderful  fidelity  and  force,  with  which  the 
portraits  of  renowned  generals  and  commodores  are  illustrated 
on  tobacco  boxes,  for  the  benefit  of  posterity.  Lest,  however, 
there  should  be  any  mistake,  the  cunning  limner  had  warily 
inscribed  the  names  of  Prince  Hal  and  Falstaff  on  the  bottoms 
of  their  chairs. 

On  the  inside  of  the  cover  was  an  inscription,  nearly  obliter- 
ated, recording  that  this  box  was  the  gift  of  Sir  Richard  Gore, 
for  the  use  of  the  vestry  meetings  at  the  Boar's  Head  Tavern, 
and  that  it  was  "•  repaired  and  beautified  by  his  successor,  Mr. 
John  Packard,  1767."  Such  is  a  faithful  description  of  this 
august  and  venerable  relic,  and  I  question  whether  the  learned 
Scriblerius  contemplated  his  Roman  shield,  or  the  Knights  of 
the  Round  Table  the  long-sought  sangreal  with  more  exultation. 

While  I  was  meditating  on  it  with  enraptured  gaze,  Dame 
Honeyball,  who  was  highly  gratified  by  the  interest  it  excited, 
put  in  my  hands  a  drinking  cup  or  goblet,  which  also  belonged 
to  the  vestry,  and  was  descended  from  the  old  Boar's  Head.  It 
bore  the  inscription  of  having  been  the  gift  of  Francis  Wythers, 
Knight,  and  was  held,  she  told  me,  in  exceeding  great  value, 
being  considered  very  "antyke."  This  last  opinion  was 
strengthened  by  the  shabby  gentleman  with  the  red  nose,  and 
oil-cloth  hat,  and  whom  I  strongly  suspected  of  being  a  lineal 
descendant  from  the  valiant  Bardolph.  He  suddenly  roused 


THE  BOAR'S  HEAD   TAVERN,  EASTCHEAP.         95 

from  his  meditation  on  the  pot  of  porter,  and  casting  a  knowing 
look  at  the  goblet,  exclaimed,  "Ay,  ay,  the  head  don't  ache 
now  that  made  that  there  article." 

The  great  importance  attached  to  this  memento  of  ancient 
revelry  by  modern  churchwardens,  at  first  puzzled  me ;  but 
there  is  nothing  sharpens  the  apprehensions  so  much  as  anti- 
quarian research ;  for  I  immediate!}'  perceived  that  this  could 
be  no  other  than  the  identical  ' '  parcel-gilt  goblet ' '  on  which 
Falstaff  made  his  loving,  but  faithless  vow  to  Dame  Quickly  ; 
and  which  would,  of  course,  be  treasured  up  with  care  among 
the  regalia  of  her  domains,  as  a  testimony  of  that  solemn  con- 
tract.1 

Mine  hostess,  indeed,  gave  me  a  long  history  how  the  goblet 
had  been  handed  down  from  generation  to  generation.  She  also 
entertained  me  with  many  particulars  concerning  the  worthy 
vestrymen  who  have  seated  themselves  thus  quietly  on  the 
stools  of  the  ancient  roysters  of  Eastcheap,  and,  like  so  many 
commentators,  utter  clouds  of  smoke  in  honor  of  Shakspeare. 
These  I  forbear  to  relate,  lest  my  readers  should  not  be  as 
curious  in  these  matters  as  myself.  Suffice  it  to  say,  the  neigh- 
bors, one  and  all,  about  Eastcheap,  believe  that  Falstaff  and 
his  merry  crew  actually  lived  and  revelled  there.  Nay,  there 
are  several  legendary  anecdotes  concerning  him  still  extant 
among  the  oldest  frequenters  of  the  Mason's  Arms,  which  they 
give  as  transmitted  down  from  their  forefathers ;  and  Mr. 
M'Kash,  an  Irish  hair-dresser,  whose  shop  stands  on  the  site 
of  the  old  Boar's  Head,  has  several  dry  jokes  of  Fat  Jack's  not 
laid  down  in  the  books,  with  which  he  makes  his  customers 
ready  to  die  of  laughter. 

I  now  turned  to  my  friend  the  sexton  to  make  some  further 
inquiries,  but  I  found  him  sunk  in  pensive  meditation.  His 
head  had  declined  a  little  on  one  side  ;  a  deep  sigh  heaved  from 
the  very  bottom  of  his  stomach,  and,  though  I  could  not  see  a 
tear  trembling  in  his  eye,  yet  a  moisture  was  evidently  steal- 
ing from  a  corner  of  his  mouth.  I  followed  the  direction  of 
his  eye  through  the  door  which  stood  open,  and  found  it  fixed 
wistfully  on  the  savory  breast  of  lamb,  roasting  in  dripping 
richness  before  the  fire. 

I  now  called  to  mind,  that  in  the  eagerness  of  my  recondite 
investigation,  I  was  keeping  the  poor  man  from  his  dinner. 

1  Thou  didst  swear  to  me  upon  a  parcel-gilt  goblet,  sitting  in  my  Dolphin-chamber,  at 
the  round  table,  by  a  sea-coal  fire,  on  Wednesday  in  Whitsun-week,  when  the  Prince 
broke  thy  head  for  likening  his  father  to  a  singing-man  at  Windsor;  thou  didst  ewear  to 
me  then,  as  1  was  washing  thy  wound,  to  marry  me,  and  make  me  my  Jady  thy  wife. 
Canst  thou  deny  it?  — Henry  IV.  part  2. 


96  THE  SKETCH-BOOR. 

My  bowels  yearned  with  sympathy,  and  putting  in  his  hand 
a  small  token  of  my  gratitude  and  good-will,  I  departed  with  a 
hearty  benediction  on  him,  Dame  Honeyball,  and  the  parish 
club  of  Crooked-lane  —  not  forgetting  my  shabby,  but  senten- 
tious friend,  in  the  oil-cloth  hat  and  copper  nose. 

Thus  have  I  given  a  "  tedious  brief  "  account  of  this  interest- 
ing research  ;  for  which,  if  it  prove  too  short  and  unsatisfactory, 
I  can  only  plead  my  inexperience  in  this  branch  of  literature, 
so  deservedly  popular  at  the  present  day.  I  am  aware  that  a 
more  skilful  illustrator  of  the  immortal  bard  would  have  swelled 
the  materials  I  have  touched  upon,  to  a  good  merchantable  bulk, 
comprising  the  biographies  of  William  Walworth,  Jack  Straw, 
and  Robert  Preston*;  some  notice  of  the  eminent  fishmongers 
of  St.  Michael's ;  the  history  of  Eastcheap,  great  and  little  ; 
private  anecdotes  of  Dame  Honeyball  and  her  pretty  daughter, 
whom  I  have  not  even  mentioned :  to  say  nothing  of  a  damsel 
tending  the  breast  of  lamb,  (and  whom,  by  the  way,  I  remarked 
to  be  a  comely  lass,  with  a  neat  foot  and  ankle;)  the  whole 
enlivened  by  the  riots  of  Wat  Tyler,  and  illuminated  by  the 
great  fire  of  London. 

All  this  I  leave  as  a  rich  mine,  to  be  worked  by  future  com- 
mentators ;  nor  do  I  despair  of  seeing  the  tobacco-box,  and 
the  "parcel-gilt  goblet,"  which  I  have  thus  brought  to  light, 
the  subjects  of  future  engravings,  and  almost  as  fruitful  of 
voluminous  dissertations  and  disputes  as  the  shield  of  Achilles, 
or  the  far-famed  Portland  vase. 


THE   MUTABILITY   OF   LITERATURE. 

A   COLLOQUY   IN   WESTMINSTER   ABBEY. 

I  know  that  all  beneath  the  moon  decays, 
And  what  by  mortals  in  this  world  is  brought, 
In  time's  great  period  shall  return  to  nought. 

I  know  that  all  the  muses'  heavenly  lays, 
"With  toil  of  sprite  which  are  so  dearly  bought, 
As  idle  sounds,  of  few  or  none  are  sought, 

That  there  is  nothing  lighter  than  mere  praise. 

DRUMMOND  OP  HAWTHORNDEIT. 

THERE  are  certain  half  dreaming  moods  of  mind,  in  which 
we  naturally  steal  away  from  noise  and  glare,  and  seek  some 
quiet  haunt,  where  we  may  indulge  our  reveries,  and  build  our 


THE  MUTABILITY  OF  LITERATURE.  97 

air  castles  undisturbed.  In  such  a  mood,  I  was  loitering  about 
the  old  gray  cloisters  of  Westminster  Abbey,  enjoying  that 
luxury  of  wandering  thought  which  one  is  apt  to  dignify  with 
the  name  of  reflection ;  when  suddenly  an  irruption  of  mad- 
cap boys  from  Westminster  school,  playing  at  foot-ball,  broke 
in  upon  the  monastic  stillness  of  the  place,  making  the  vaulted 
passages  and  mouldering  tombs  echo  with  their  merriment.  I 
sought  to  take  refuge  from  their  noise  by  penetrating  still 
deeper  into  the  solitudes  of  the  pile,  and  applied  to  one  of 
the  vergers  for  admission  to  the  library.  He  conducted  me 
through  a  portal,  rich  with  the  crumbling  sculpture  of  former 
ages,  which  opened  upon  a  gloomy  passage  leading  to  the 
Chapter-house,  and  the  chamber  in  which  Doomsday  Book 
is  deposited.  Just  within  the  passage  is  a  small  door  on  the 
left.  To  this  the  verger  applied  a  key  ;  it  was  double  locked, 
and  opened  with  some  difficulty,  as  if  seldom  used.  We  now 
ascended  a  dark  narrow  staircase,  and  passing  through  a  sec- 
ond door,  entered  the  library. 

I  found  nryself  in  a  lofty  antique  hall,  the  roof  supported 
by  massive  joists  of  old  English  oak.  It  was  soberly  lighted  lay 
a  row  of  Gothic  windows  at  a  considerable  height  from  the 
floor,  and  which  apparently  opened  upon  the  roofs  of  the  clois- 
ters. An  ancient  picture  of  some  reverend  dignitary  of  the 
church  in  his  robes  hung  over  the  fireplace.  Around  the  hall 
and  in  a  small  gallery  were  the  books,  arranged  in  carved 
oaken  cases.  They  consisted  principally  of  old  polemical 
writers,  and  were  much  more  worn  by  time  than  use.  In  the 
centre  of  the  library  was  a  solitary  table,  with  two  or  three 
books  on  it,  an  inkstand  without  ink,  and  a  few  pens  parched 
by  long  disuse.  The  place  seemed  fitted  for  quiet  study  and 
profound  meditation.  It  was  buried  deep  among  the  massive 
walls  of  the  abbey,  and  shut  up  from  the  tumult  of  the  world. 
I  could  only  hear  now  and  then  the  shouts  of  the  schoolboys 
faintly  swelling  from  the  cloisters,  and  the  sound  of  a  bell  toll- 
ing for  prayers,  echoing  soberly  along  the  roofs  of  the  abbey. 
By  degrees  the  shouts  of  merriment  grew  fainter  and  fainter, 
and  at  length  died  away.  The  bell  ceased  to  toll,  and  a  pro- 
found silence  reigned  through  the  dusky  hall. 

I  had  taken  down  a  little  thick  quarto,  curiously  bound  in 
parchment,  with  brass  clasps,  and  seated  myself  at  the  table  in 
a  venerable  elbow  chair.  Instead  of  reading,  however,  I  was 
beguiled  by  the  solemn  monastic  air  and  lifeless  quiet  of  the 
place,  into  a  train  of  musing.  As  I  looked  around  upon  the  old 
volumes  in  their  mouldering  covers,  thus  ranged  on  the  shelves. 


98  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

and  apparently  never  disturbed  in  their  repose,  I  could  not  but 
consider  the  library  a  kind  of  literary  catacomb,  where  authors, 
like  mummies,  are  piously  entombed,  and  left  to  blacken  and 
moulder  in  dusty  oblivion. 

How  much,  thought  I,  has  each  of  these  volumes,  now  thrust 
aside  with  such  indifference,  cost  some  aching  head  —  how 
many  weary  days !  how  many  sleepless  nights !  How  have 
their  authors  buried  themselves  in  the  solitude  of  cells  and 
cloisters ;  shut  themselves  up  from  the  face  of  man,  and  the 
still  more  blessed  face  of  nature ;  and  devoted  themselves  to 
painful  research  and  intense  reflection !  And  all  for  what?  to 
occupy  an  inch  of  dusty  shelf  —  to  have  the  title  of  their 
works  read  now  and  then  in  a  future  age,  by  some  drowsy 
churchman,  or  casual  straggler  like  myself ;  and  in  Another  age 
to  be  lost  even  to  remembrance.  Such  is  the  amount  of  this 
boasted  immortality.  A  mere  temporary  rumor,  a  local  sound  ; 
like  the  tone  of  that  bell  which  has  just  tolled  among  these 
towers,  filling  the  ear  for  a  moment  —  lingering  transiently  in 
echo  —  and  then  passing  away,  like  a  thing  that  was  not ! 

While  I  sat  half -murmuring,  half- meditating  these  unprofita- 
ble speculations,  with  my  head  resting  on  my  hand,  I  was 
thrumming  with  the  other  hand  upon  the  quarto,  until  I  acci- 
dentally loosened  the  clasps ;  when,  to  my  utter  astonishment, 
the  little  book  gave  two  or  three  yawns,  like  one  awaking  from 
a  deep  sleep  ;  then  a  husky  hem,  and  at  length  began  to  talk. 
At  first  its  voice  was  very  hoarse  and  broken,  being  much  trou- 
bled by  a  cobweb  which  some  studious  spider  had  woven  across 
it ;  and  having  probably  contracted  a  cold  from  long  exposure 
to  the  chills  and  damps  of  the  abbey.  In  a  short  time,  how- 
ever, it  became  more  distinct,  and  I  soon  found  it  an  exceed- 
ingly fluent  conversable  little  tome.  Its  language,  to  be  sure, 
was  rather  quaint  and  obsolete,  and  its  pronunciation  what  in 
the  present  day  would  be  deemed  barbarous ;  but  I  shall  en- 
deavor, as  far  as  I  am  able,  to  render  it  in  modern  parlance. 

It  began  with  railings  about  the  neglect  of  the  world  —  about 
merit  being  suffered  to  languish  in  obscurity,  and  other  such 
commonplace  topics  of  literary  repining,  and  complained  bitterly 
that  it  had  not  been  opened  for  more  than  two  centuries  ;  —  that 
the  Dean  only  looked  now  and  then  into  the  library,  sometimes 
took  down  a  volume  or  two,  trifled  with  them  for  a  few  moments, 
and  then  returned  them  to  their  shelves. 

"  What  a  plague  do  they  mean,"  said  the  little  quarto,  which 
I  began  to  perceive  was  somewhat  choleric,  tk  what  a  plague  do 
they  mean  by  keeping  several  thousand  volumes  of  us  shut  up 


THE  MUTABILITY  OF  LITERATURE.  99 

here,  and  watched  by  a  set  of  old  vergers,  like  so  many  beauties 
in  a  harem,  merely  to  be  looked  at  now  and  then  by  the  Dean  ? 
Books  were  written  to  give  pleasure  and  to  be  enjoyed ;  and  I 
would  have  a  rule  passed  that  the  Dean  should  pay  each  of  us 
a  visit  at  least  once  a  year ;  or  if  he  is  not  equal  to  the  task, 
let  them  once  in  a  while  turn  loose  the  whole  school  of  West- 
minster among  us,  that  at  any  rate  we  may  now  and  then  have 
an  airing. 

"  Softly,  my  worthy  friend,"  replied  I,  "you  are  not  aware 
how  much  better  you  are  off  than  most  books  of  your  genera- 
tion. By  being  stored  away  in  this  ancient  library,  you  are  like 
the  treasured  remains  of  those  saints  and  monarchs  which  lie 
enshrined  in  the  adjoining  chapels ;  while  the  remains  of  your 
contemporary  mortals,  left  to  the  ordinary  course  of  nature, 
have  long  since  returned  to  dust." 

"  Sir,"  said  the  little  tome,  ruffling  his  leaves  and  looking 
big,  "I  was  written  for  all  the  world,  not  for  the  bookworms 
of  an  abbey.  I  was  intended  to  circulate  from  hand  to  hand, 
like  other  great  contemporary  works ;  but  here  have  I  been 
clasped  up  for  more  than  two  centuries,  and  might  have  silently 
fallen  a  prey  to  these  worms  that  are  playing  the  very  ven- 
geance with  my  intestines,  if  you  had  not  by  chance  given  me 
an  opportunity  of  uttering  a  few  last  words  before  I  go  to 
pieces." 

"  My  good  friend,"  rejoined  I,  "had  you  been  left  to  the 
circulation  of  which  you  speak,  you  would  long  ere  this  have 
been  no  more.  To  judge  from  your  physiognomy,  you  are  now 
well  stricken  in  years  ;  very  few  of  your  contemporaries  can  be 
at  present  in  existence ;  and  those  few  owe  their  longevity  to 
being  immured  like  yourself  in  old  libraries ;  which,  suffer  me 
to  add,  instead  of  likening  to  harems,  you  might  more  properly 
and  gratefully  have  compared  to  those  infirmaries  attached  to 
religious  establishments,  for  the  benefit  of  the  old  and  decrepit, 
and  where,  by  quiet  fostering  and  no  employment,  they  often 
endure  to  an  amazingly  good-for-nothing  old  age.  You  talk  of 
your  contemporaries  as  if  in  circulation  —  where  do  we  meet 
with  their  works?  —  what  do  we  hear  of  Robert  Groteste  of 
Lincoln  ?  No  one  could  have  toiled  harder  than  he  for  immor- 
tality. He  is  said  to  have  written  nearl}-  two  hundred  volumes. 
He  built,  as  it  were,  a  pyramid  of  books  to  perpetuate  his 
name  :  but,  alas !  the  pyramid  has  long  since  fallen,  and  only  a 
few  fragments  are  scattered  in  various  libraries,  where  they  are 
scarcely  disturbed  even  l>y  the  antiquarian.  What  do  we  hear 
of  Giraidus  Cambrensis,  the  historian,  antiquary,  philosopher. 


100  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

theologian,  and  poet?  He  declined  two  bishoprics,  that  he 
might  shut  himself  up  and  write  for  posterity ;  but  posterity 
never  inquires  after  his  labors.  What  of  Henry  of  Hunting- 
don, who,  besides  a  learned  history  of  England,  wrote  a  treatise 
on  the  contempt  of  the  world,  which  the  world  has  revenged  by 
forgetting  him  ?  What  is  quoted  of  Joseph  of  Exeter,  styled 
the  miracle  of  his  age  in  classical  composition  ?  Of  his  three 
great  heroic  poems,  one  is  lost  forever,  excepting  a  mere  frag- 
ment ;  the  others  are  known  only  to  a  few  of  the  curious  in 
literature ;  and  as  to  his  love  verses  and  epigrams,  they  have 
entirely  disappeared.  What  is  in  current  use  of  John  Wallis, 
the  Franciscan,  who  acquired  the  name  of  the  tree  of  life?  — 
of  William  of  Malmsbury  ;  of  Simeon  of  Durham  ;  of  Benedict 
of  Peterborough;  of  John  Hauvill  of  St.  Albans  ;  of " 

"Prithee,  friend,"  cried  the  quarto  in  a  testy  tone,  "how 
old  do  you  think  me  ?  You  are  talking  of  authors  that  lived 
long  before  my  time,  and  wrote  either  in  Latin  or  French,  so 
that  they  in  a  manner  expatriated  themselves,  and  deserved  to 
be  forgotten  ; 1  but  I,  sir,  was  ushered  into  the  world  from  the 
press  of  the  renowned  Wynkyn  de  Worde.  I  was  written  in 
my  own  native  tongue,  at  a  time  when  the  language  had  become 
fixed  ;  and,  indeed,  I  was  considered  a  model  of  pure  and  elegant 
English." 

[I  should  observe  that  these  remarks  were  couched  in  such 
intolerably  antiquated  terms,  that  I  have  had  infinite  difficulty 
in  rendering  them  into  modern  phraseology.] 

"  I  cry  your  mercy,"  said  I,  "  for  mistaking  your  age ;  but  it 
matters  little  ;  almost  all  the  writers  of  your  time  have  likewise 
passed  into  forgetfulness ;  and  De  Worde 's  publications  are 
mere  literary  rarities  among  book-collectors.  The  purity  and 
stability  of  language,  too,  on  which  you  found  your  claims  to 
perpetuity,  have  been  the  fallacious  dependence  of  authors  of 
every  age,  even  back  to  the  times  of  the  worthy  Robert  of 
Gloucester,  who  wrote  his  history  in  rhymes  of  mongrel  Saxon.2 
Even  now,  many  talk  of  Spenser's  '  well  of  pure  English  unde- 
filed,'  as  if  the  language  ever  sprang  from  a  well  or  fountain- 

1  In  Latin  and  French  hath  many  soueraine  wittes  had  great  delyte  to  eudite,  and 
have  many  noble  things  fulfilde,  but  certes  there  ben  some  that  speaken  their  poisye  in 
French,  of  which  speche  the  Frenchmen  have  as  good  a  fantasye  as  we  have  in  hearing 
of  Frenchmen's  Englishe.  —  CHAUCER'S  Testament  of  Love. 

2  Holinshed,  in   his  Chronicle,   observes,  "afterwards,  also,  by  diligent  travell  of 
Geffry  Chaucer  and  John  Gowre,  in  the  time  of  Richard  the  Second,  and  after  them  of 
John  Scogan  and  John  Lydgate,  monke  of  Berrie,  our  said  toong  was  brought  to  an 
excellent  passe,  notwithstanding  that  it  never  came  unto  the  type  of  perfection  until  the 
time  of  Queen  Elizabeth,  wherein  John  Jewell,  Bishop  of  Sarum,  John  Fox,  ami  sundrie 
learned  and  excellent  writers,  have  fully  accomplished  the  ornature  of  the  same,  to  their 
great  praise  and  immortal  commendation." 


THE  MUTABILITY  OF  LITERATURE.  101 

head,  and  was  not  rather  a  mere  confluence  of  various  tongues, 
perpetually  subject  to  changes  and  intermixtures.  It  is  this 
which  has  made  English  literature  so  extremely  mutable,  and 
the  reputation  built  upon  it  so  fleeting.  Unless  thought  can 
be  committed  to  something  more  permanent  and  unchangeable 
than  such  a  medium,  even  thought  must  share  the  fate  of  every 
thing  else,  and  fall  into  decay.  This  should  serve  as  a  check 
upon  the  vanity  and  exultation  of  the  most  popular  writer.  He 
finds  the  language  in  which  he  has  embarked  his  fame  gradually 
altering,  and  subject  to  the  dilapidations  of  time  and  the  caprice 
of  fashion.  He  looks  back,  and  beholds  the  early  authors  of 
his  country,  once  the  favorites  of  their  day,  supplanted  by 
modern  writers :  a  few  short  ages  have  covered  them  with  ob- 
scurity, and  their  merits  can  only  be  relished  by  the  quaint 
taste  of  the  bookworm.  And  such,  he  anticipates,  will  be  the 
fate  of  his  own  work,  which,  however  it  may  be  admired  in  its 
day,  and  held  up  as  a  model  of  purity,  will,  in  the  course  of 
years,  grow  antiquated  and  obsolete,  until  it  shall  become  al- 
most as  unintelligible  in  its  native  land  as  an  Egyptian  obelisk, 
or  one  of  those  Runic  inscriptions,  said  to  exist  in  the  deserts 
of  Tartary.  I  declare,"  added  I,  with  some  emotion,  "when 
I  contemplate  a  modern  library,  filled  with  new  works  in  all  the 
bravery  of  rich  gilding  and  binding,  I  feel  disposed  to  sit  down 
and  weep ;  like  the  good  Xerxes,  when  he  surveyed  his  army, 
pranked  out  in  all  the  splendor  of  military  array,  and  reflected 
that  in  one  hundred  years  not  one  of  them  would  be  in  exist- 
ence !" 

"Ah,"  said  the  little  quarto,  with  a  heavy  sigh,  "  I  see  how 
it  is  ;  these  modern  scribblers  have  superseded  all  the  good  old 
authors.  I  suppose  nothing  is  read  now-a-days  but  Sir  Philip 
Sidney's  Arcadia,  Sackville's  stately  plays  and  Mirror  for 
Magistrates,  or  the  fine-spun  euphuisms  of  the  '  unparalleled 
John  Lyly.'  ' 

"  There  you  are  again  mistaken,"  said  I ;  "  the  writers  whom 
you  suppose  in  vogue,  because  they  happened  to  be  so  when 
you  were  last  in  circulation,  have  long  since  had  their  day. 
Sir  Philip  Sidney's  Arcadia,  the  immortality  of  which  was  so 
fondly  predicted  by  his  admirers,1  and  which,  in  truth,  was  full 
of  noble  thoughts,  delicate  images,  and  graceful  turns  of  lan- 

1  "  Live  ever  sweete  booke;  the  simple  image  of  his  gentle  witt,  and  the  golden  pillar 
of  his  noble  courage;  and  ever  notify  unto  the  world  that  thy  writer  was  the  secretary 
of  eloquence,  the  breath  of  the  muses,  the  honey  bee  of  the  daintyest  flowers  of  witt  and 
arte,  the  pith  of  morale  and  the  intellectual  virtues,  the  arme  of  Bellona  in  the  field,  the 
tongue  of  Suada  in  the  chamber,  the  spirite  of  Practise  in  esse,  and  the  paragon  of  excel- 
lency in  print." — HARVEY  Pierce' s  Supererogation. 


102  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

guage,  is  now  scarcely  ever  mentioned.  Sackville  has  strutted 
into  obscurity ;  and  even  Lyly,  though  his  writings  were  once 
the  delight  of  a  court,  and  apparently  perpetuated  by  a  proverb, 
is  now  scarcely  known  even  by  name.  A  whole  crowd  of  authors 
who  wrote  and  wrangled  at  the  time,  have  likewise  gone  down 
with  all  their  writings  and  their  controversies.  Wave  after  wave 
of  succeeding  literature  has  rolled  over  them,  until  they  are 
buried  so  deep,  that  it  is  only  now  and  then  that  some  industri- 
ous diver  after  fragments  of  antiquity  brings  up  a  specimen  for 
the  gratification  of  the  curious. 

kt  For  my  part,"  I  continued,  u  I  consider  this  mutability  of 
language  a  wise  precaution  of  Providence  for  the  benefit  of  the 
world  at  large,  and  of  authors  in  particular.  To  reason  from 
analogy  :  we  daily  behold  the  varied  and  beautiful  tribes  of  vege- 
tables springing  up,  flourishing,  adorning  the  fields  for  a  short 
time,  and  then  fading  into  dust,  to  make  way  for  their  success- 
ors. Were  not  this  the  case,  the  fecundity  of  nature  would  be 
a  grievance  instead  of  a  blessing :  the  earth  would  groan  with 
rank  and  excessive  vegetation,  and  its  surface  become  a  tangled 
wilderness.  In  like  manner,  the  works  of  genius  and  learning 
decline  and  make  way  for  subsequent  productions.  Language 
gradually  varies,  and  with  it  fade  away  the  writings  of  authors 
who  have  flourished  their  allotted  time ;  otherwise  the  creative 
powers  of  genius  would  overstock  the  world,  and  the  mind 
would  be  completely  bewildered  in  the  endless  mazes  of  litera- 
ture. Formerly  there  were  some  restraints  on  this  excessive 
multiplication :  works  had  to  be  transcribed  by  hand,  which 
was  a  slow  and  laborious  operation ;  they  were  written  either 
on  parchment,  which  was  expensive,  so  that  one  work  was 
often  erased  to  make  way  for  another ;  or  on  papyrus,  which 
was  fragile  and  extremely  perishable.  Authorship  was  a  lim- 
ited and  unprofitable  craft,  pursued  chiefly  by  monks  in  the 
leisure  and  solitude  of  their  cloisters.  The  accumulation  of 
manuscripts  was  slow  and  costly,  and  confined  almost  entirely 
to  monasteries.  To  these  circumstances  it  may,  in  some  meas- 
ure, be  owing  that  we  have  not  been  inundated  by  the  intellect 
of  antiquity  ;  that  the  fountains  of  thoughts  have  not  been 
broken  up,  and  modern  genius  drowned  in  the  deluge.  But  the 
inventions  of  paper  and  the  press  have  put  an  end  to  all  these 
restraints :  they  have  made  every  one  a  writer,  and  enabled 
every  mind  to  pour  itself  into  print,  and  diffuse  itself  over  the 
whole  intellectual  world.  The  consequences  are  alarming. 
The  stream  of  literature  has  swollen  into  a  torrent  —  augmented 
into  a  river  —  expanded  into  a  sea.  A  few  centuries  since,  five 


THE  MUTABILITY  OF  LITERATURE.  103 

or  six  hundred  manuscripts  constituted  a  great  library ;  but 
what  would  you  say  to  libraries,  such  as  actually  exist,  contain- 
ing three  or  four  hundred  thousand  volumes  ;  legions  of  authors 
at  the  same  time  busy  ;  and  a  press  going  on  with  fearfully  in- 
creasing activity,  to  double  and  quadruple  the  number?  Unless 
some  unforeseen  mortality  should  break  out  among  the  progeny 
of  the  Muse,  now  that  she  has  become  so  prolific,  I  tremble  for 
posterity.  I  fear  the  mere  fluctuation  of  language  will  not  be 
sufficient.  Criticism  may  do  much ;  it  increases  with  the  in- 
crease of  literature,  and  resembles  one  of  those  salutary  checks 
on  population  spoken  of  by  economists.  All  possible  encour- 
agement, therefore,  should  be  given  to  the  growth  of  critics, 
good  or  bad.  But  I  fear  all  will  be  in  vain  ;  let  criticism  do 
what  it  may,  writers  will  write,  printers  will  print,  and  the 
world  will  inevitably  be  overstocked  with  good  books.  It  will 
soon  be  the  emplo}Tment  of  a  lifetime  merely  to  learn  their 
names.  Many  a  man  of  passable  information  at  the  present 
day  reads  scarcely  any  thing  but  reviews,  and  before  long  a 
man  of  erudition  will  be  little  better  than  a  mere  walking  cata- 
logue." 

"  My  very  good  sir,"  said  the  little  quarto,  yawning  most 
drearily  in  my  face,  "excuse  my  interrupting  you,  but  I  per- 
ceive you  are  rather  given  to  prose.  I  would  ask  the  fate  of 
an  author  who  was  making  some  noise  just  as  I  left  the  world. 
His  reputation,  however,  was  considered  quite  temporary.  The 
learned  shook  their  heads  at  him,  for  he  was  a  poor,  half-edu- 
cated varlet,  that  knew  little  of  Latin,  and  nothing  of  Greek, 
and  had  been  obliged  to  run  the  country  for  deer-stealing.  I 
think  his  name  was  Shakspeare.  I  presume  he  soon  sunk  into 
oblivion." 

"On  the  contrary,"  said  I,  "it  is  owing  to  that  very  man 
that  the  literature  of  his  period  has  experienced  a  duration 
beyond  the  ordinary  term  of  English  literature.  There  rise 
authors  now  and  then,  who  seem  proof  against  the  mutability 
of  language,  because  they  have  rooted  themselves  in  the  un- 
changing principles  of  human  nature.  They  are  like  gigantic 
trees  that  we  sometimes  see  on  the  banks  of  a  stream,  which, 
by  their  vast  and  deep  roots,  penetrating  through  the  mere  sur- 
face, and  laying  hold  on  the  very  foundations  of  the  earth,  pre- 
serve the  soil  around  them  from  being  swept  away  by  the  over- 
flowing current,  and  hold  up  many  a  neighboring  plant,  and, 
perhaps,  worthless  weed,  to  perpetuity.  Such  is  the  case  with 
Shakspeare,  whom  we  behold  defying  the  encroachments  of 
time,  retaining  in  modern  use  the  language  and  literature  of  his 


104  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

day,  and  giving  duration  to  many  an  indifferent  author  merely 
from  having  flourished  in  his  vicinity.  But  even  he,  I  grieve  to 
say,  is  gradually  assuming  the  tint  of  age,  and  his  whole  form 
is  overrun  by  a  profusion  of  commentators,  who,  like  clamber- 
ing vines  and  creepers,  almost  bury  the  noble  plant  that  upholds 
them." 

Here  the  little  quarto  began  to  heave  his  sides  and  chuckle, 
until  at  length  he  broke  out  into  a  plethoric  fit  of  laughter  that 
had  well  nigh  choked  him,  by  reason  of  his  excessive  corpu- 
lency. "  Mighty  well !  "  cried  he,  as  soon  as  he  could  recover 
breath,  "mighty  well!  and  so  you  would  persuade  me  that 
the  literature  of  an  age  is  to  be  perpetuated  by  a  vagabond 
deer-stealer !  by  a  man  without  learning!  by  a  poet!  for- 
sooth—  a  poet!"  And  here  he  wheezed  forth  another  fit  of 
laughter. 

I  confess  that  I  felt  somewhat  nettled  at  this  rudeness,  which, 
however,  I  pardoned  on  account  of  his  having  flourished  in  a 
less  polished  age.  I  determined,  nevertheless,  not  to  give  up 
my  point. 

"  Yes,"  resumed  I  positively,  u  a  poet ;  for  of  all  writers  he 
has  the  best  chance  for  immortality.  Others  may  write  from 
the  head,  but  he  writes  from  the  heart,  and  the  heart  will  always 
understand  him.  He  is  the  faithful  portrayer  of  Nature,  whose 
features  are  alwaj's  the  same,  and  always  interesting.  Prose 
writers  are  voluminous  and  unwieldy ;  their  pages  are  crowded 
with  commonplaces,  and  their  thoughts  expanded  into  tedious- 
ness.  But  with  the  true  poet  every  thing  is  terse,  touching, 
or  brilliant.  He  gives  the  choicest  thoughts  in  the  choicest  lan- 
guage. He  illustrates  them  by  every  thing  that  he  sees  most 
striking  in  nature  and  art.  He  enriches  them  by  pictures  of 
human  life,  such  as  it  is  passing  before  him.  His  writings, 
therefore,  contain  the  spirit,  the  aroma,  if  I  may  use  the 
phrase,  of  the  age  in  which  he  lives.  They  are  caskets  which 
enclose  within  a  small  compass  the  wealth  of  the  language  — 
its  family  jewels,  which  are  thus  transmitted  in  a  portable 
form  to  posterity.  The  setting  may  occasionally  be  antiquated, 
and  require  now  and  then  to  be  renewed,  as  in  the  case  of 
Chaucer ;  but  the  brilliancy  and  intrinsic  value  of  the  gems 
continue  unaltered.  Cast  a  look  back  over  the  long  reach  of 
literary  history.  What  vast  valleys  of  dulness,  filled  with 
monkish  legends  and  academical  controversies  !  What  bogs  of 
theological  speculations  !  What  dreary  wastes  of  metaphysics  ! 
Here  and  there  only  do  we  behold  the  heaven-illuminated 
bards,  elevated  like  beacons  on  their  widely-separate  heights,  to 


RURAL   FUNERALS.  105 

transmit  the    pure  light  of  poetical  intelligence  from  age  to 


I  was  just  about  to  launch  forth  into  eulogiums  upon  the 
poets  of  the  day,  when  the  sudden  opening  of  the  door  caused 
me  to  turn  my  head.  It  was  the  verger,  who  came  to  inform 
me  that  it  was  time  to  close  the  library.  I  sought  to  have  a 
parting  word  with  the  quarto,  but  the  worthy  little  tome  was 
silent ;  the  clasps  were  closed  ;  and  it  looked  perfectly  unconscious 
of  all  that  had  passed.  I  have  been  to  the  library  two  or  three 
times  since,  and  have  endeavored  to  draw  it  into  further  con- 
versation, but  in  vain  :  and  whether  all  this  rambling  colloquy 
actually  took  place,  or  whether  it  was  another  of  those  odd  day- 
dreams to  which  I  am  subject,  I  have  never,  to  this  moment, 
been  able  to  discover. 


RURAL   FUNERALS. 

Here's  a  few  flowers!  but  about  midnight  more: 
The  herbs  that  have  on  them  cold  dew  o'  the  night 

Are  strewings  fitt'st  for  graves 

You  were  as  flowers  now  withered :  even  so 

These  herblets  shall,  which  we  upon  you  strow.  —  CYMBELINE. 

AMONG  the  beautiful  and  simple-hearted  customs  of  rural  life 
which  still  linger  in  some  parts  of  England,  are  those  of  strew- 
ing flowers  before  the  funerals  and  planting  them  at  the  graves 
of  departed  friends.  These,  it  is  said,  are  the  remains  of  some 
of  the  rites  of  the  primitive  church  ;  but  they  are  of  still  higher 
antiquity,  having  been  observed  among  the  Greeks  and  Romans, 
and  frequently  mentioned  by  their  writers,  and  were,  no  doubt, 
the  spontaneous  tributes  of  unlettered  affection,  originating 
long  before  art  had  tasked  itself  to  modulate  sorrow  into  song, 
or  story  it  on  the  monument.  They  are  now  only  to  be  met 
with  in  the  most  distant  and  retired  places  of  the  kingdom, 
where  fashion  and  innovation  have  not  been  able  to  throng  in, 

1  Thorow  earth,  and  waters  deepe, 

The  pen  by  skill  doth  passe  : 
And  featly  nyps  the  worlds  abuse, 

And  shoes  us  in  a  glasse, 
The  vertu  and  the  vice 

Of  every  wight  alyve; 
The  honey  combe  that  bee  doth  make, 

Is  not  so  sweet  in  hyve, 
As  are  the  golden  leves 

That  drops  from  poet's  head ; 
Which  doth  surmount  our  common  talke, 

As  farro  as  dross  doth  lead.  —  CHURCHYARD. 


106  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

and  trample  out  all  the  curious  and  interesting  traces  of  the 
olden  time. 

In  Glamorganshire,  we  are  told,  the  bed  whereon  the  corpse 
lies  is  covered  with  flowers,  a  custom  alluded  to  in  one  of  the 
wild  and  plaintive  ditties  of  Ophelia : 

White  his  shroud  as  the  mountain  snow, 

Larded  all  with  sweet  flowers; 
Which  be-wept  to  the  grave  did  go, 

With  true  love  showers. 

There  is  also  a  most  delicate  and  beautiful  rite  observed  in 
some  of  the  remote  villages  of  the  south,  at  the  funeral  of  a 
female  who  has  died  young  and  unmarried.  A  chaplet  of 
white  flowers  is  borne  before  the  corpse  by  a  young  girl,  nearest 
in  age,  size,  and  resemblance,  and  is  afterwards  hung  up  in 
the  church  over  the  accustomed  seat  of  the  deceased.  These 
chaplets  are  sometimes  made  of  white  paper,  in  imitation  of 
flowers,  and  inside  of  them  is  generally  a  pair  of  white  gloves. 
They  are  intended  as  emblems  of  the  purity  of  the  deceased, 
and  the  crown  of  glory  which  she  has  received  in  heaven. 

In  some  parts  of  the  country,  also,  the  dead  are  carried  to 
the  grave  with  the  singing  of.  psalms  and  hymns ;  a  kind  of 
triumph,  "to  show,"  says  Bourne,  "that  they  have  finished 
their  course  with  joy,  and  are  become  conquerors."  This,  I  am 
informed,  is  observed  in  some  of  the  northern  counties,  par- 
ticularly in  Northumberland,  and  it  has  a  pleasing,  though 
melancholy  effect,  to  hear,  of  a  still  evening,  in  some  lonely 
country  scene,  the  mournful  melody  of  a  funeral  dirge  swelling 
from  a  distance,  and  to  see  the  train  slowly  moving  along  the 
landscape. 

Thus,  thus,  and  thus,  we  compass  round 
Thy  harmlesse  and  unhaunted  ground, 
And  as  we  sing  thy  dirge,  we  will 

The  Daffodill 

And  other  flowers  lay  upon 
The  altar  of  our  love,  thy  stone.  —  HEKRICK. 

There  is  also  a  solemn  respect  paid  by  the  traveller  to  the 
passing  funeral  in  these  sequestered  places  ;  for  such  spectacles, 
occurring  among  the  quiet  abodes  of  nature,  sink  deep  into  the 
soul.  As  the  mourning  train  approaches,  he  pauses,  uncov- 
ered, to  let  it  go  by  ;  he  then  follows  silently  in  the  rear ;  some- 
times quite  to  the  grave,  at  other  times  for  a  few  hundred 
yards,  and  having  paid  this  tribute  of  respect  to  the  deceased, 
turns  and  resumes  his  journey. 


RURAL   FUNERALS.  107 

The  rich  vein  of  melancholy  which  runs  through  the  English 
character,  and  gives  it  some  of  its  most  touching  and  ennobling 
graces,  is  finely  evidenced  in  these  pathetic  customs,  and  in  the 
solicitude  shown  by  the  common  people  for  an  honored  and  a 
peaceful  grave.  The  humblest  peasant,  whatever  may  be  his 
lowly  lot  while  living,  is  anxious  that  some  little  respect  may 
be  paid  to  his  remains.  Sir  Thomas  Overbury,  describing  the 
"  faire  and  happy  milkmaid,"  observes,  "thus  lives  she,  and 
all  her  care  is,  that  she  may  die  in  the  spring-time,  to  have  store 
of  flowers  stucke  upon  her  winding-sheet.".  The  poets,  too, 
who  always  breathe  the  feeling  of  a  nation,  continually  advert 
to  this  fond  solicitude  about  the  grave.  In  "The  Maid's 
Tragedy,"  by  Beaumont  and  Fletcher,  there  is  a  beautiful  in- 
stance of  the  kind,  describing  the  capricious  melancholy  of  a 
broken-hearted  girl. 

When  she  sees  a  bank 

Stucfc  full  of  flowers,  she,  with  a  sigh,  will  tell 
Her  servants,  what  a  pretty  place  it  were 
To  bury  lovers  in ;  and  make  her  maids 
Pluck  'em,  and  strew  her  over  like  a  corse. 

The  custom  of  decorating  graves  was  once  universally  preva- 
lent ;  osiers  were  carefully  bent  over  them  to  keep  the  turf  un- 
injured, and  about  them  were  planted  evergreens  and  flowers. 
"We  adorn  their  graves,"  says  Evelyn,  in  his  Sylva,  "  with 
flowers  and  redolent  plants,  just  emblems  of  the  life  of  man, 
which  has  been  compared  in  Holy  Scriptures  to  those  fading 
beauties,  whose  roots  being  buried  in  dishonor,  rise  again  in 
glory."  This  usage  1ms  now  become  extremely  rare  in  Eng- 
land ;  but  it  may  still  be  met  with  in  the  churchyards  of  re- 
tired villages,  among  the  Welsh  mountains ;  and  I  recollect  an 
instance  of  it  at  the  small  town  of  Ruthen,  which  lies  at  the 
head  of  the  beautiful  vale  of  Clewyd.  I  have  been  told  also 
by  a  friend,  who  was  present  at  the  funeral  of  a  young  girl  in 
Glamorganshire,  that  the  female  attendants  had  their  aprons 
full  of  flowers,  which,  as  soon  as  the  body  was  interred,  they 
stuck  about  the  grave. 

He  noticed  several  graves  which  had  been  decorated  in  the 
same  manner.  As.  the  flowers  had  been  merely  stuck  in  the 
ground,  and  not  planted,  they  had  soon  withered,  and  might 
be  seen  in  various  states  of  decay  ;  some  drooping,  others  quite 
perished.  They  were  afterwards  to  be  supplanted  by  holly, 
rosemary,  and  other  evergreens ;  which  on  some  graves  had 
grown  to  great  luxuriance,  and  overshadowed  the  tombstones. 


108  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

There  was  formerly  a  melancholy  fancifulness  in  the  arrange- 
ment of  these  rustic  offerings  that  had  something  in  it  truly 
poetical.  The  rose  was  sometimes  blended  with  the  lily,  to 
form  a  general  emblem  of  frail  mortality .  ' '  This  sweet  flower, ' ' 
said  Evelyn,  "borne  on  a  branch  set  with  thorns,  and  accom- 
panied with  the  lily,  are  natural  hieroglyphics  of  our  fugitive, 
umbratile,  anxious,  and  transitory  life,  which,  making  so  fair 
a  show  for  a  time,  is  not  yet  without  its  thorns  and  crosses." 
The  nature  and  color  of  the  flowers,  and  of  the  ribbons  with 
which  they  were  tied,  had  often  a  particular  reference  to  the 
qualities  or  story  of  the  deceased,  or  were  expressive  of  the 
feelings  of  the  mourner.  In  an  old  poem,  entitled  "  Corydon's 
Doleful  Knell,"  a  lover  specifies  the  decorations  he  intends  to 
use: 

A  garland  shall  be  framed 

Bjr  Art  and  Nature's  skill, 
Of  sundry -coloured  flowers, 

In  token  of  good  will. 

And  sundry-coloured  ribands 

On  ill  will  bestow; 
But  chiefly  blacke  and  yellowe 

With  her  to  grave  shall  go. 

I'll  deck  her  tomb  with  flowers 

The  rarest  ever  seen ; 
And  with  my  tears  as  showers 

I'll  keep  them  fresh  and  green. 

The  white  rose,  we  are  told,  was  planted  at  the  grave  of  a 
virgin ;  her  chaplet  was  tied  with  whit-e  ribbons,  in  token  of 
her  spotless  innocence  ;  though  sometimes  black  ribbons  were 
intermingled,  to  bespeak  the  grief  of  the  survivors.  The  red 
rose  was  occasionally  used,  in  remembrance  of  such  as  had 
been  remarkable  for  benevolence ;  but  roses  in  general  were 
appropriated  to  the  graves  of  lovers.  Evelyn  tells  us  that  the 
custom  was  not  altogether  extinct  in  his  time,  near  his  dwelling 
in  the  county  of  Surrey,  '-'  where  the  maidens  yearly  planted 
and  decked  the  graves  of  their  defunct  sweethearts  with  rose- 
bushes." And  Camden  likewise  remarks,  in  his  Britannia: 
"  Here  is  also  a  certain  custom  observed  time  out  of  mind,  of 
planting  rose-trees  upon  the  graves,  especially  by  the  young 
men  and  maids  who  have  lost  their  loves ;  so  that  this  church- 
yard is  now  full  of  them." 

When  the  deceased  had  been  unhappy  in  their  loves,  emblems 
of  a  more  gloomy  character  were  used,  such  as  the  yew  and 


RURAL  FUNERALS.  109 

cj-press ;  and  if  flowers  were  strewn,  they  were  of  the  most 
melancholy  colors.  Thus,  in  poems  by  Thomas  Stanley,  Esq., 
(published  in  1651,)  is  the  following  stanza: 

Yet  strew 

Upon  my  dismall  grave 
Such  offerings  as  you  have, 

Forsaken  cypresse  and  sad  yewe ; 
For  kinder  flowers  can  take  no  birth 
Or  growth  from  such  unhappy  earth. 

In  "The  Maid's  Tragedy,"  a  pathetic  little  air  is  introduced, 
illustrative  of  this  mode  of  decorating  the  funerals  of  females 
who  have  been  disappointed  in  love. 

Lay  a  garland  on  my  hearse 

Of  the  dismal  yew, 
Maidens  willow  branches  wear, 

Say  I  died  true. 
My  love  was  false,  but  I  was  firm, 

From  my  hour  of  birth, 
Upon  my  buried  body  lie 

Lightly,  gentle  earth. 

The  natural  effect  of  sorrow  over  the  dead  is  to  refine  and 
elevate  the  mind ;  and  we  have  a  proof  of  it  in  the  purity  of 
sentiment,  and  the  unaffected  elegance  of  thought,  which  per- 
vaded the  whole  of  these  funeral  observances.  Thus,  it  was 
an  especial  precaution,  that  none  but  sweet-scented  evergreens 
and  flowers  should  be  employed.  The  intention  seems  to  have 
been  to  soften  the  horrors  of  the  tomb,  to  beguile  the  mind 
from  brooding  over  the  disgraces  of  perishing  mortality,  and 
to  associate  the  memory  of  the  deceased  with  the  most  delicate 
and  beautiful  objects  in  Nature.  There  is  a  dismal  process 
going  on  in  the  grave,  ere  dust  can  return  to  its  kindred  dust, 
which  the  imagination  shrinks  from  contemplating;  and  we 
seek  still  to  think  of  the  form  we  have  loved,  with  those  refined 
associations  which  it  awakened  when  blooming  before  us  in 
youth  and  beauty.  ''Lay  her  i'  the  earth,"  saj's  Laertes  of 
his  virgin  sister, 

And  from  her  fair  and  unpolluted  flesh 
May  violets  spring. 

Herrick,  also,  in  his  "  Dirge  of  Jephtha,"  pours  forth  a  fra- 
grant flow  of  poetical  thought  and  image,  which  in  a  manner 
embalms  the  dead  in  the  recollections  of  the  living. 


110  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Sleep  in  thy  peace,  thy  bed  of  spice, 

And  make  this  place  all  Paradise. 

May  sweets  grow  here :  and  smoke  from  hence 

Fat  frankincense. 

Let  balme  and  cassia  send  their  scent 
From  out  thy  maiden-monument ! 

May  all  shie  maids  at  wonted  hours 

Come  forth  to  strew  thy  tombe  with  flowers! 

May  virgins,  when  they  come  to  mourn, 

Male-incense  burn 
Upon  thine  altar,  then  return, 
And  leave  thee  sleeping  in  thine  urn ! 

I  might  crowd  my  pages  with  extracts  from  the  older  British 
poets,  who  wrote  when  these  rites  were  more  prevalent,  and  de- 
lighted frequently  to  allude  to  them  ;  but  I  have  already  quoted 
more  than  is  necessary.  I  cannot,  however,  refrain  from  giving 
a  passage  from  Shakspeare,  even  though  it  should  appear  trite, 
which  illustrates  the  emblematical  meaning  often  conveyed  in 
these  floral  tributes,  and  at  the  same  time  possesses  that  magic 
of  language  and  appositeness  of  imagery  for  which  he  stands 
pre-eminent. 

With  fairest  flowers, 

Whilst  summer  lasts,  and  I  live  here,  Fidele, 
I'll  sweeten  thy  sad  grave ;  thou  shall  not  lack 
The  flower  that's  like  thy  face,  pale  primrose;  nor 
The  azured  harebell  like  thy  veins ;  no,  nor 
The  leaf  of  eglantine;  whom  not  to  slander, 
Outsweetened  not  thy  breath. 

There  is  certainly  something  more  affecting  in  these  prompt 
and  spontaneous  offerings  of  nature,  than  in  the  most  costly 
monuments  of  art ;  the  hand  strews  the  flower  while  the  heart 
is  warm,  and  the  tear  falls  on  the  grave  as  affection  is  binding 
the  osier  round  the  sod  ;  but  pathos  expires  under  the  slow 
labor  of  the  chisel,  and  is  chilled  among  the  cold  conceits  of 
sculptured  marble. 

It  is  greatly  to  be  regretted,  that  a  custom  so  truly  elegant 
and  touching  hap  disappeared  from  general  use,  and  exists  only 
in  the  most  remote  and  insignificant  villages.  But  it  seems  as 
if  poetical  custom  always  shuns  the  walks  of  cultivated  societj- . 
In  proportion  as  people  grow  polite,  they  cease  to  be  poetical. 
They  talk  of  poetry,  but  they  have  learnt  to  check  its  free  im- 
pulses, to  distrust  its  sallying  emotions,  and  to  supply  its  most 
affecting  and  picturesque  usages,  by  studied  form  and  pompous 
ceremonial.  Few  pageants  can  be  more  stately  and  frigid  than 


RURAL  FUNERALS.  HI 

an  English  funeral  in  town.  It  is  made  up  of  show  and  gloomy 
parade  :  mourning  carriages,  mourning  horses,  mourning  plumes, 
and  hireling  mourners,  who  make  a  mockery  of  grief.  "  There 
is  a  grave  digged,"  says  Jeremy  Taylor,  "  and  a  solemn  mourn- 
ing, and  a  great  talk  in  the  neighbourhood,  and  when  the  daies 
are  finished,  they  shall  be,  and  they  shall  be  remembered  no 
more."  The  associate  in  the  gay  and  crowded  city  is  soon  for- 
gotten ;  the  hurrying  succession  of  new  intimates  and  new 
pleasures  effaces  him  from  our  minds,  and  the  very  scenes  and 
circles  in  which  he  moved  are  incessantly  fluctuating.  But 
funerals  in  the  country  are  solemnly  impressive.  The  stroke  of 
death  makes  a  wider  space  in  the  village  circle,  and  is  an  awful 
event  in  the  tranquil  uniformity  of  rural  life.  The  passing  bell 
tolls  its  knell  in  every  ear ;  it  steals  with  its  pervading  melan- 
choly over  hill  and  vale,  and  saddens  all  the  landscape. 

The  fixed  and  unchanging  features  of  the  country,  also,  per- 
petuate the  memory  of  the  friend  with  whom  we  once  enjoyed 
them  ;  who  was  the  companion  of  our  most  retired  walks,  and 
gave  animation  to  every  lonely  scene.  His  idea  is  associated 
with  every  charm  of  Nature :  we  hear  his  voice  in  the  echo 
which  he  once  delighted  to  awaken  ;  his  spirit  haunts  the  grove 
which  he  once  frequented  ;  we  think  of  him  in  the  wild  upland 
solitude,  or  amidst  the  pensive  beauty  of  the  valley.  In  the 
freshness  of  joyous  morning,  we  remember  his  beaming  smiles 
and  bounding  gayety  ;  and  when  sober  evening  returns,  with  its 
gathering  shadows  and  subduing  quiet,  we  call  to  mind  many 
a  twilight  hour  of  gentle  talk  and  sweet-souled  melancholy. 

Each  lonely  place  shall  him  restore, 

For  him  the  tear  be  duly  shed, 
Beloved,  till  life  can  charm  no  more, 

And  mourn'd  till  pity's  self  be  dead. 

Another  cause  that  perpetuates  the  memory  of  the  deceased 
in  the  country,  is  that  the  grave  is  more  immediately  in  sight 
of  the  survivors.  They  pass  it  on  their  way  to  prayer  ;  it  meets 
their  eyes  when  their  hearts  are  softened  by  the  exercises  of 
devotion  ;  they  linger  about  it  on  the  Sabbath,  when  the  mind 
is  disengaged  from  worldly  cares,  and  most  disposed  to  turn 
aside  from  present  pleasures  and  present  loves,  and  to  sit  down 
among  the  solemn  mementos  of  the  past.  In  North  Wales, 
the  peasantry  kneel  and  pray  over  the  graves  of  their  deceased 
friends  for  several  Sundays  after  the  interment ;  and  where 
the  tender  rite  of  strewing  and  planting  flowers  is  still  practised, 


112  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

it  is  always  renewed  on  Easter,  Whitsuntide,  and  other  festi- 
vals, when  the  season  brings  the  companion  of  former  festivity 
more  vividly  to  mind.  It  is  also  invariably  performed  by  the 
nearest  relatives  and  friends  ;  no  menials  nor  hirelings  are  em- 
ployed, and  if  a  neighbor  yields  assistance,  it  would  be  deemed 
an  insult  to  offer  compensation. 

I  have  dwelt  upon  this  beautiful  rural  custom,  because,  as  it 
is  one  of  the  last,  so  is  it  one  of  the  holiest  offices  of  love.  The 
grave  is  the  ordeal  of  true  affection.  It  is  there  that  the  divine 
passion  of  the  soul  manifests  its  superiority  to  the  instinctive 
impulse  of  mere  animal  attachment.  The  latter  must  be  con- 
tinually refreshed  and  kept  alive  by  the  presence  of  its  object ; 
but  the  love  that  is  seated  in  the  soul  can  live  on  long  remem- 
brance. The  mere  inclinations  of  sense  languish  and  decline 
with  the  charms  which  excited  them,  and  turn  with  shuddering 
disgust  from  the  dismal  precincts  of  the  tomb ;  but  it  is  thence 
that  truly  spiritual  affection  rises  purified  from  every  sensual 
desire,  and  returns,  like  a  holy  flame,  to  illumine  and  sanctify 
the  heart  of  the  survivor. 

The  sorrow  for  the  dead  is  the  only  sorrow  from  which  we 
refuse  to  be  divorced.  Every  other  wound  we  seek  to  heal  — 
every  other  affliction  to  forget ;  but  this  wound  we  consider  it 
a  duty  to  keep  open  —  this  affliction  we  cherish  and  brood  over 
in  solitude.  Where  is  the  mother  who  would  willingly  forget 
the  infant  that  perished  like  a  blossom  from  her  arms,  though 
every  recollection  is  a  pang?  Where  is  the  child  that  would 
willingly  forget  the  most  tender  of  parents,  though  to  remember 
be  but  to  lament?  Who,  even  in  the  hour  of  agony,  would  for- 
get the  friend  over  whom  he  mourns?  Who,  even  when  the 
tomb  is  closing  upon  the  remains  of  her  he  most  loved ;  when 
he  feels  his  heart,  as  it  were,  crushed  in  the  closing  of  its  por- 
tal ;  would  accept  of  consolation  that  must  be  bought  by  forget- 
fulness  ?  —  No,  the  love  which  survives  the  tomb  is  one  of  the 
noblest  attributes  of  the  soul.  If  it  has  its  woes,  it  has  likewise 
its  delights  ;  and  when  the  overwhelming  burst  of  grief  is  calmed 
into  the  gentle  tear  of  recollection  —  when  the  sudden  anguish 
and  the  convulsive  agony  over  the  present  ruins  of  all  that 
we  most  loved,  is  softened  away  into  pensive  meditation  on 
all  that  it  was  in  the  days  of  its  loveliness  —  who  would  root 
out  such  a  sorrow  from  the  heart?  Though  it  may  sometimes 
throw  a  passing  cloud  over  the  bright  hour  of  gayety,  or  spread 
a  deeper  sadness  over  the  hour  of  gloom  ;  yet  who  would  ex- 
change it  even  for  the  song  of  pleasure,  or  the  burst  of  revelry? 
No,  there  is  a  voice  from  the  tomb  sweeter  than  song.  There 


RURAL  FUNERALS.  113 

is  a  remembrance  of  the  dead,  to  which  we  turn  even  from  the 
charms  of  the  living.  Oh,  the  grave  !  —  the  grave  !  — It  buries 
every  error  —  covers  every  defect  —  extinguishes  every  resent- 
ment !  From  its  peaceful  bosom  spring  none  but  fond  regrets 
and  tender  recollections.  Who  can  look  down  upon  the  grave 
even  of  an  enemy  and  not  feel  a  compunctious  throb,  that 
he  should  ever  have  warred  with  the  poor  handful  of  earth  that 
lies  mouldering  before  him  ? 

But  the  grave  of  those  we  loved  —  what  a  place  for  medita- 
tion !  There  it  is  that  we  call  up  in  long  review  the  whole 
history  of  virtue  and  gentleness,  and  the  thousand  endearments 
lavished  upon  us  almost  unheeded  in  the  daily  intercourse  of 
intimacy;  —  there  it  is  that  we  dwell  upon  the  tenderness,  the 
solemn,  awful  tenderness  of  the  parting  scene.  The  bed  of 
death,  with  all  its  stifled  griefs  —  its  noiseless  attendance  —  its 
mute,  watchful  assiduities.  The  last  testimonies  of  expiring 
love  !  The  feeble,  fluttering,  thrilling,  oh  !  how  thrilling  !  press- 
ure of  the  hand.  The  faint,  faltering  accents,  struggling  in  death 
to  give  one  more  assurance  of  affection !  The  last  fond  look  of 
the  glazing  eye,  turned  upon  us  even  from  the  threshold  of 
existence. 

Ay,  go  to  the  grave  of  buried  love,  and  meditate  !  There 
settle  the  account  with  thy  conscience  for  every  past  benefit 
unrequited,  ever}*-  past  endearment  unregarded,  of  that  departed 
being,  who  can  never  —  never  —  never  return  to  be  soothed  by 
thy  contrition  ! 

If  thou  art  a  child,  and  hast  ever  added  a  sorrow  to  the  soul, 
or  a  furrow  to  the  silvered  brow  of  an  affectionate  parent  —  if 
thou  art  a  husband,  and  hast  ever  caused  the  fond  bosom  that 
ventured  its  whole  happiness  in  thy  arms,  to  doubt  one  moment 
of  thy  kindness  or  thy  truth  —  if  thou  art  a  friend,  and  hast 
ever  wronged,  in  thought,  or  word,  or  deed,  the  spirit  that 
generously  confided  in  thee  —  if  thou  art  a  lover  and  hast  ever 
given  one  unmerited  pang  to  that  true  heart  which  now  lies  cold 
and  still  beneath  thy  feet ;  then  be  sure  that  every  unkind  look, 
every  ungracious  word,  every  ungentle  action,  will  come  throng- 
ing back  upon  thy  memory,  and  knocking  dolefully  at  thy  soul 
—  then  be  sure  that  thou  wilt  lie  down  sorrowing  and  repent- 
ant on  the  grave,  and  utter  the  unheard  groan,  and  pour  the 
unavailing  tear  —  more  deep,  more  bitter,  because  unheard  and 
unavailing. 

Then  weave  thy  chaplet  of  flowers,  and  strew  the  beauties  of 
nature  about  the  grave  ;  console  thy  broken  spirit,  if  thou  canst, 
with  these  tender,  yet  futile  tributes  of  regret ;  —  but  take 


114  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

warning  by  the  bitterness  of  this  thy  contrite  affliction  ovel 
the  dead,  and  henceforth  be  more  faithful  and  affectionate  in  the 
discharge  of  thy  duties  to  the  living. 


IN  writing  the  preceding  article  it  was  not  intended  to  give 
a  full  detail  of  the  funeral  customs  of  the  English  peasantry, 
but  merely  to  furnish  a  few  hints  and  quotations  illustrative 
of  particular  rites,  to  be  appended,  by  way  of  note,  to  another 
paper,  which  has  been  withheld.  The  article  swelled  insensi- 
bly into  its  present  form,  and  this  is  mentioned  as  an  apology 
for  so  brief  and  casual  a  notice  of  these  usages,  after  they  have 
been  amply  and  learnedly  investigated  in  other  works. 

I  must  observe,  also,  that  1  am  well  aware  that  this  custom 
of  adorning  graves  with  flowers  prevails  in  other  countries  be- 
sides England.  Indeed,  in  some  it  is  much  more  general,  and 
is  observed  even  by  the  rich  and  fashionable  ;  but  it  is  then 
apt  to  lose  its  simplicity,  and  to  degenerate  into  affectation. 
Bright,  in  his  travels  in  Lower  Hungary,  tells  of  monuments 
of  marble,  and  recesses  formed  for  retirement,  with  seats 
placed  among  bowers  of  green-house  plants ;  and  that  the 
graves  generally  are  covered  with  the  gayest  flowers  of  the 
season.  He  gives  a  casual  picture  of  filial  piety,  which  I  can- 
not but  describe,  for  I  trust  it  is  as  useful  as  it  is  delightful  to 
illustrate  the  amiable  virtues  of  the  sex.  "  When  I  was  at  Ber- 
lin," says  he,  "  I  followed  the  celebrated  Iffland  to  the  grave. 
Mingled  with  some  pomp,  you  might  trace  much  real  feeling. 
In  the  midst  of  the  ceremony,  my  attention  was  attracted  by  a 
young  woman  who  stood  on  a  mound  of  earth,  newly  covered 
with  turf,  which  she  anxiously  protected  from  the  feet  of  the 
passing  crowd.  It  was  the  tomb  of  her  parent ;  and  the  figure 
of  this  affectionate  daughter  presented  a  monument  more  strik- 
ing than  the  most  costly  work  of  art." 

I  will  barely  add  an  instance  of  sepulchral  decoration  that  I 
once  met  with  among  the  mountains  of  Switzerland.  It  was 
at  the  village  of  Gersau,  which  stands  on  the  borders  of  the 
lake  of  Luzerne,  at  the  foot  of  Mount  Kigi.  It  was  once  the 
capital  of  a  miniature  republic,  shut  up  between  the  Alps  and 
the  lake,  and  accessible  on  the  land  side  only  by  footpaths. 
The  whole  force  of  the  republic  did  not  exceed  six  hundred 
fighting  men  ;  and  a  few  miles  of  circumference,  scooped  out, 
as  it  were,  from  the  bosom  of  the  mountains,  comprised  its 
territory.  The  village  of  Gersau  seemed  separated  from  the 


THE  INN  KITCHEN.  115 

rest  of  the  world,  and  retained  the  golden  simplicity  of  a  purer 
age.  It  had  a  small  church,  with  a  burying-ground  adjoining. 
At  the  heads  of  the  graves  were  placed  crosses  of  wood  or  iron. 
On  some  were  affixed  miniatures,  rudely  executed,  but  evidently 
attempts  at,  likenesses  of  the  deceased.  On  the  crosses  were 
hung  chaplets  of  flowers,  some  withering,  others  fresh,  as  if 
occasionally  renewed.  I  paused  with  interest  at  this  scene ; 
I  felt  that  I  was  at  the  source  of  poetical  description,  for  these 
were  the  beautiful,  but  unaffected  offerings  of  the  heart,  which 
poets  are  fain  to  record.  In  a  gayer  and  more  populous  place, 
I  should  have  suspected  them  to  have  been  suggested  by 
factitious  sentiment,  derived  from  books ;  but  the  good  people 
of  Gersau  knew  little  of  books ;  there  was  not  a  novel  nor 
a  love  poem  in  the  village ;  and  I  question- whether  any  peas- 
ant of  the  place  dreamt,  while  he  was  twining  a  fresh  chap- 
let  for  the  grave  of  his  mistress,  that  he  was  fulfilling  one  of 
the  most  fanciful  rites  of  poetical  devotion,  and  that  he  was 
practically  a  poet. 


THE   INN   KITCHEN. 

Shall  I  not  take  mine  ease  in  mine  inn?  —  Falstaff. 

DURING  a  journey  that  I  once  made  through  the  Netherlands, 
I  had  arrived  one  evening  at  the  Pomme  cTOr,  the  principal 
inn  of  a  small  Flemish  village.  It  was  after  the  hour  of  the 
table  d'hote,  so  that  I  was  obliged  to  make  a  solitary  supper 
from  the  relics  of  its  ampler  board.  The  weather  was  chilly ; 
I  was  seated  alone  in  one  end  of  a  great  gloomy  dining-room, 
and  my  repast  being  over,  I  had  the  prospect  before  me  of  a 
long  dull  evening,  without  any  visible  means  of  enlivening  it. 
I  summoned  mine  host,  and  requested  something  to  read ;  he 
brought  me  the  whole  literary  stock  of  his  household,  a  Dutch 
family  Bible,  an  almanac  in  the  same  language,  and  a  number 
of  old  Paris  newspapers.  As  I  sat  dozing  over  one  of  the  lat- 
ter, reading  old  news  and  stale  criticisms,  my  ear  was  now 
and  then  struck  with  bursts  of  laughter  which  seemed  to  pro- 
ceed from  the  kitchen.  Every  one  that  has  travelled  on  the 
Continent  must  know  how  favorite  a  resort  the  kitchen  of  a 
country  inn  is  to  the  middle  and  inferior  order  of  travellers ; 
particularly  in  that  equivocal  kind  of  weather  when  a  fire  be- 
comes agreeable  toward  evening.  1  threw  aside  the  news- 


116  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

paper,  and  explored  my  way  to  the  kitchen,  to  take  a  peep  at 
the  group  that  appeared  to  be  so  merry.  It  was  composed 
partly  of  travellers  who  had  arrived  some  hours  before  in  a 
diligence,  and  partly  of  the  usual  attendants  and  hangers-on  of 
inns.  They  were  seated  round  a  great  burnished  stove,  that 
might  have  been  mistaken  for  an  altar,  at  which  they  were  wor- 
shipping. It  was  covered  with  various  kitchen  vessels  of  re- 
splendent brightness  ;  among  which  steamed  and  hissed  a  huge 
copper  tea-kettle.  A  large  lamp  threw  a  strong  mass  of  light 
upon  the  group,  bringing  out  many  odd  features  in  strong 
relief.  Its  yellow  rays  partially  illumined  the  spacious  kitchen, 
dying  duskily  away  into  remote  corners  except  where  they 
settled  in  mellow  radiance  on  the  broad  side  of  a  flitch  of  bacon, 
or  were  reflected  back  from  well-scoured  utensils  that  gleamed 
from  the  midst  of  obscurity.  A  strapping  Flemish  lass,  with 
long  golden  pendants  in  her  ears,  and  a  necklace  with  a  golden 
heart  suspended  to  it,  was  the  presiding  priestess  of  the  temple. 

Many  of  the  company  were  furnished  with  pipes,  and  most 
of  them  with  some  kind  of  evening  potation.  I  found  their 
mirth  was  occasioned  by  anecdotes  which  a  little  swarthy 
Frenchman,  with  a  dry  weazen  face  and  large  whiskers,  was 
giving  of  his  love  adventures ;  at  the  end  of  each  of  which 
there  was  one  of  those  bursts  of  honest  unceremonious  laugh- 
ter, in  which  a  man  indulges  in  that  temple  of  true  liberty,  an 
inn. 

As  I  had  no  better  mode  of  getting  through  a  tedious  blus- 
tering evening,  I  took  my  seat  near  the  stove,  and  listened  to 
a  variety  of  traveller's  tales,  some  very  extravagant,  and  most 
very  dull.  All  of  them,  however,  have  faded  from  my  treach- 
erous memory,  except  one,  which  I  will  endeavor  to  relate. 
I  fear,  however,  it  derived  its  chief  zest  from  the  manner  in 
which  it  was  told,  and  the  peculiar  air  and  appearance  of  the 
narrator.  He  was  a  corpulent  old  Swiss,  who  had  the  look  of 
a  veteran  traveller.  He  was  dressed  in  a  tarnished  green  trav- 
elling-jacket, with  a  broad  belt  round  his  waist,  and  a  pair  of 
overalls  with  buttons  from  the  hips  to  the  ankles.  He  was  of 
a  full,  rubicund  countenance,  with  a  double  chin,  aquiline  nose, 
and  a  pleasant  twinkling  eye.  His  hair  was  light,  and  curled 
from  under  an  old  green  velvet  travelling-cap,  stuck  on  one 
side  of  his  head.  He  was  interrupted  more  than  once  by  the 
arrival  of  guests,  or  the  remarks  of  his  auditors  ;  and  paused, 
now  and  then,  to  replenish  his  pipe ;  at  which  times  he  had 
generally  a  roguish  leer,  and  a  sly  joke,  for  the  buxom  kitchen 
maid. 


THE  SPECTEE  XRIDEGROOM.  117 

I  wish  my  reader  could  imagine  the  old  fellow  lolling  in  a 
huge  arm-chair,  one  arm  a-kimbo,  the  other  holding  a  curiously 
twisted  tobacco-pipe,  formed  of  genuine  ecume  de  mer,  deco- 
rated with  silver  chain  and  silken  tassel  —  his  head  cocked  on 
one  side,  and  a  whimsical  cut  of  the  eye  occasionally,  as  he 
related  the  following  story. 


THE  SPECTRE   BRIDEGROOM. 
A  TRAVELLER'S  TALE.1 

He  that  supper  for  is  dight, 

He  lyes  full  cold,  I  trow,  this  night ! 

Yestreen  to  chamber  I  him  led, 

This  night  Gray-steel  has  made  his  bed ! 

SIR  EGER,  SIR  GRAHAME,  and  SIR  GRAY-STEEL. 

ON  the  summit  of  one  of  the  heights  of  the  Odenwald,  a  wild 
and  romantic  tract  of  Upper  Germany,  that  lies  not  far  from 
the  confluence  of  the  Main  and  the  Rhine,  there  stood,  many, 
many  years  since,  the  Castle  of  the  Baron  Von  Landshort.  It 
is  now  quite  fallen  to  decay,  and  almost  buried  among  beech 
trees  and  dark  firs ;  above  which,  however,  its  old  watch-tower 
may  still  be  seen  struggling,  like  -the  former  possessor  I  have 
mentioned,  to  carry  a  high  head,  and  look  down  upon  a  neigh- 
boring country. 

The  Baron  was  a  dry  branch  of  the  great  family  of  Katzen- 
ellenbogen,2  and  inherited  the  relics  of  the  property,  and  all 
the  pride  of  his  ancestors.  Though  the  warlike  disposition  of 
his  predecessors  had  much  impaired  the  family  possessions,  yet 
the  Baron  still  endeavored  to  keep  up  some  show  of  former 
state.  The  times  were  peaceable,  and  the  German  nobles,  in 
general,  had  abandoned  their  inconvenient  old  castles,  perched 
like  eagle's  nests  among  the  mountains,  and  had  built  more 
convenient  residences  in  the  valleys ;  still  the  Baron  remained 
proudly  drawn  up  in  his  little  fortress,  cherishing  with  heredi- 
tary inveteracy  all  the  old  family  feuds ;  so  that  he  was  on  ill 

1  The  erudite  reader,  well  versed  in  good-for-nothing   lore,  will  perceive  that  the 
above  Tale  must  have  been  suggested  to  the  old  Swiss  by  a  little  French  anecdote, 
a  circumstance  said  to  have  taken  place  at  Paris. 

2  i.e.,  CAT'S  ELBOW  —  the  name  of  a  family  of  those  parts,  very  powerful  in  former 
times.     The  appellation,  we  are  told,  was  given  in  compliment  to  a  peerless  dame 
of  the  family,  celebrated  for  a  fine  arm. 


118  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

terms  with  some  of  his  nearest  neighbors,  on  account  of  disputes 
that  had  happened  between  their  great-great-grandfathers. 

The  Baron  had  but  one  child,  a  daughter ;  but  Nature,  when 
she  grants  but  one  child,  always  compensates  by  making  it  a 
prodigy ;  and  so  it  was  with  the  daughter  of  the  Baron.  All 
the  nurses,  gossips,  and  country  cousins,  assured  her  father 
that  she  had  not  her  equal  for  beauty  in  all  Germany  ;  and  who 
should  know  better  than  they?  She  had,  moreover,  been 
brought  up  with  great  care,  under  the  superintendence  of  two 
maiden  aunts,  who  had  spent  some  years  of  their  earty  life  at 
one  of  the  little  German  courts,  and  were  skilled  in  all  the 
branches  of  knowledge  necessary  to  the  education  of  a  fine 
lady.  Under  their  instructions,  she  became  a  miracle  of  ac- 
complishments. By  the  time  she  was  eighteen  she  could  em- 
broider to  admiration,  and  had  worked  whole  histories  of  the 
saints  in  tapestry,  with  such  strength  of  expression  in  their 
countenances,  that  they  looked  like  so  many  souls  in  purga- 
tory. She  could  read  without  great  difficult}',  and  had  spelled 
her  way  through  several  church  legends,  and  almost  all  the 
chivalric  wonders  of  the  Heldenbuch.  She  had  even  made 
considerable  proficiency  in  writing,  could  sign  her  own  name 
without  missing  a  letter,  and  so  legibly,  that  her  aunts  could 
read  it  without  spectacles.  She  excelled  in  making  little  elegant 
good-for-nothing  lady-like  knickknacks  of  all  kinds ;  was  versed 
in  the  most  abstruse  dancing  of  the  day ;  played  a  number  of 
airs  on  the  harp  and  guitar;  and  knew  all  the  tender  ballads  of 
the  Minnie-lieders  by  heart. 

Her  aunts,  too,  having  been  great  flirts  and  coquettes  in  their 
younger  days,  were  admirably  calculated  to  be  vigilant  guard- 
ians and  strict  censors  of  the  conduct  of  their  niece  ;  for  there 
is  no  duenna  so  rigidly  prudent,  and  inexorably  decorous,  as  a 
superannuated  coquette.  She  was  rarely  suffered  out  of  their 
sight ;  never  went  beyond  the  domains  of  the  castle,  unless  well 
attended,  or  rather  well  watched ;  had  continual  lectures  read 
to  her  about  strict  decorum  and  implicit  obedience  ;  and,  as  to 
the  men  —  pah !  she  was  taught  to  hold  them  at  such  a  distance 
and  in  such  absolute  distrust,  that,  unless  properly  authorized, 
she  would  not  have  cast  a  glance  upon  the  handsomest  cavalier 
in  the  world  —  no,  not  if  he  were  even  dying  at  her  feet. 

The  good  effects  of  this  system  were  wonderfully  apparent. 
The  young  lady  was  a  pattern  of  docility  and  correctness. 
While  others  were  wasting  their  sweetness  in  the  glare  of  the 
world,  and  liable  to  be  plucked  and  thrown  aside  by  every 
hand,  she  was  coyly  blooming  into  fresh  and  lovely  woman- 


THE  SPECTRE  BRIDEGROOM.  119 

hood  under  the  protection  of  those  immaculate  spinsters,  like 
a  rose-bud  blushing  forth  among  guardian  thorns.  Her  aunts 
looked  upon  her  with  pride  and  exultation,  and  vaunted  that 
though  all  the  other  young  ladies  in  the  world  might  go  astray, 
yet,  thank  Heaven,  nothing  of  the  kind  could  happen  to  the 
heiress  of  Katzenellenbogen. 

But  however  scantily  the  Baron  Von  Landshort  might  be 
provided  with  children,  his  household  was  by  no  means  a  small 
one,  for  Providence  had  enriched  him  with  abundance  of  poor 
relations.  They,  one  and  all,  possessed  the  affectionate  dispo- 
sition common  to  humble  relatives  ;  were  wonderfully  attached 
to  the  Baron,  and  took  every  possible  occasion  to  come  in 
swarms  and  enliven  the  castle.  All  family  festivals  were  com- 
memorated by  these  good  people  at  the  Baron's  expense ;  and 
when  they  were  filled  with  good  cheer,  they  would  declare  that 
there  was  nothing  on  earth  so  delightful  as  these  family  meet- 
ings, these  jubilees  of  the  heart. 

The  Baron,  though  a  small  man,  had  a  large  soul,  and  it 
swelled  with  satisfaction  at  the  consciousness  of  being  the 
greatest  man  in  the  little  world  about  him.  He  loved  to  tell 
long  stories  about  the  stark  old  warriors  whose  portraits  looked 
grimly  down  from  the  walls  around,  and  he  found  no  listeners 
equal  to  those  who  fed  at  his  expense.  He  was  much  given  to 
the  marvellous,  and  a  firm  believer  in  all  those  supernatural 
tales  with  which  every  mountain  and  valley  in  Germany 
abounds.  The  faith  of  his  guests  even  exceeded  his  own  :  they 
listened  to  every  tale  of  wonder  with  open  eyes  and  mouth, 
and  never  failed  to  be  astonished,  even  though  repeated  for 
the  hundredth  time.  Thus  lived  the  Baron  Von  Landshort, 
the  oracle  of  his  table,  the  absolute  monarch  of  his  little  terri- 
tory, and  happy,  above  all  things,  in  the  persuasion  that  he 
was  the  wisest  man  of  the  age. 

At  the  time  of  which  my  story  treats,  there  was  a  great 
family-gathering  at  the  castle,  on  an  affair  of  the  utmost  im- 
portance: —  it  was  to  receive  the  destined  bridegroom  of  the 
Baron's  daughter.  A  negotiation  had  been  carried  on  between 
the  father  and  an  old  nobleman  of  Bavaria,  to  unite  the  dignity 
of  their  houses  by  the  marriage  of  their  children.  The  prelimi- 
naries had  been  conducted  with  proper  punctilio.  The  young 
people  were  betrothed  without  seeing  each  other,  and  the  time 
was  appointed  for  the  marriage  ceremony.  The  young  Count 
Von  Altenburg  had  been  recalled  from  the  army  for  the  pur- 
pose, and  was  actually  on  his  way  to  the  Baron's  to  receive 
his  bride.  Missives  had  even  been  received  from  him,  from 


120  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Wurtzburg,  where  he  was  accidentally  detained,  mentioning  the 
day  and  hour  when  he  might  be  expected  to  arrive. 

The  castle  was  in  a  tumult  of  preparation  to  give  him  a 
suitable  welcome.  The  fair  bride  had  been  decked  out  with 
uncommon  care.  The  two  aunts  had  superintended  her  toilet, 
and  quarrelled  the  whole  morning  about  every  article  of  her 
dress.  The  young  lady  had  taken  advantage  of  their  contest 
to  follow  the  bent  of  her  own  taste ;  and  fortunately  it  was  a 
good  one.  She  looked  as  lovely  as  youthful  bridegroom  could 
desire ;  and  the  flutter  of  expectation  heightened  the  lustre  of 
her  charms. 

The  suffusions  that  mantled  her  face  and  neck,  the  gentle 
heaving  of  the  bosom,  the  eye  now  and  then  lost  in  reverie,  all 
betrayed  the  soft  tumult  that  was  going  on  in  her  little  heart. 
The  aunts  were  continually  hovering  around  her ;  for  maiden 
aunts  are  apt  to  take  great  interest  in  affairs  of  this  nature ; 
they  were  giving  her  a  world  of  staid  counsel  how  to  deport 
herself,  what  to  say,  and  in  what  manner  to  receive  the  ex- 
pected lover. 

The  Baron  was  no  less  busied  in  preparations.  He  had,  in 
truth,  nothing  exactly  to  do ;  but  he  was  naturally  a  fuming, 
bustling  little  man,  and  could  not  remain  passive  when  all  the 
world  was  in  a  hurry.  He  worried  from  top  to  bottom  of  the 
castle,  with  an  air  of  infinite  anxiety  ;  he  continually  called  the 
servants  from  their  work  to  exhort  them  to  be  diligent,  and 
buzzed  about  every  hall  and  chamber,  as  idly  restless  and  im- 
portunate as  a  blue-bottle  fly  of  a  warm  summer's  day. 

In  the  mean  time,  the  fatted  calf  had  been  killed  ;  the  forests 
had  rung  with  the  clamor  of  the  huntsmen  ;  the  kitchen  was 
crowded  with  good  cheer ;  the  cellars  had  yielded  up  whole 
oceans  of  Rhein-wein  and  Ferne-wein,  and  even  the  great  Hei- 
delberg tun  had  been  laid  under  contribution.  Every  thing 
was  ready  to  receive  the  distinguished  guest  with  /Saus  und 
Braus  in  the  true  spirit  of  German  hospitality  —  but  the  guest 
delayed  to  make  his  appearance.  Hour  rolled  after  hour.  The 
sun  that  had  poured  his  downward  rays  upon  the  rich  forests 
of  the  Odenwald,  now  just  gleamed  along  the  summits  of  the 
mountains.  The  Baron  mounted  the  highest  tower,  and  strained 
his  eyes  in  hope  of  catching  a  distant  sight  of  the  Count  and 
his  attendants.  Once  he  thought  he  beheld  them ;  the  sound 
of  horns  came  floating  from  the  valley,  prolonged  by  the  moun- 
tain echoes  :  a  number  of  horsemen  were  seen  far  below,  slowly 
advancing  along  the  road  ;  but  when  they  had  nearly  reached 
the  foot  of  the  mountain,  they  suddenly  struck  off  in  a  different 


THE   SPECTRE  BRIDEGROOM.  121 

direction.  The  last  ray  of  sunshine  departed  —  the  bats  began 
to  flit  by  in  the  twilight  —  the  road  grew  dimmer  and  dimmer 
to  the  view :  and  nothing  appeared  stirring  in  it,  but  now  and 
then  a  peasant  lagging  homeward  from  his  labor. 

While  the  old  castle  of  Landshort  was  in  this  state  of  per- 
plexity, a  very  interesting  scene  was  transacting  in  a  different 
part  of  the  Odenwald. 

The  young  Count  Von  Altenburg  was  tranquilly  pursuing  his 
route  in  that  sober  jog-trot  way  in  which  a  man  travels  toward 
matrimony  when  his  friends  have  taken  all  the  trouble  and  un- 
certainty of  courtship  off  his  hands,  and  a  bride  is  waiting  for 
him,  as  certainly  as  a  dinner,  at  the  end  of  his  journey.  He 
had  encountered  at  Wurtzburg  a  youthful  companion  in  arms, 
with  whom  he  had  seen  some  service  on  the  frontiers ;  Herman 
Von  Starkenfaust,  one  of  the  stoutest  hands  and  worthiest 
hearts  of  German  chivalry,  who  was  now  returning  from  the 
army.  His  father's  castle  was  not  far  distant  from  the  old 
fortress  of  Landshort,  although  an  hereditary  feud  rendered  the 
families  hostile,  and  strangers  to  each  other. 

In  the  warm-hearted  moment  of  recognition,  the  young 
friends  related  all  their  past  adventures  and  fortunes,  and  the 
Count  gave  the  whole  history  of  his  intended  nuptials  with  a 
young  lady  whom  he  had  never  seen,  but  of  whose  charms  he 
had  received  the  most  enrapturing  descriptions. 

As  the  route  of  the  friends  lay  in  the  same  direction,  they 
agreed  to  perform  the  rest  of  their  journey  together ;  and  that 
they  might  do  it  the  more  leisurely,  set  off  from  Wurtzburg  at 
an  early  hour,  the  Count  having  given  directions  for  his  retinue 
to  follow  and  overtake  him. 

They  beguiled  their  wayfaring  with  recollections  of  their 
military  scenes  and  adventures ;  but  the  Count  was  apt  to  be  a 
little  tedious,  now  and  then,  about  the  reputed  charms  of  his 
bride,  and  the  felicity  that  awaited  him. 

In  this  way  they  had  entered  among  the  mountains  of  the 
Odenwald,  and  were  traversing  one  of  its  most  lonely  and 
thickly  wooded  passes.  It  is  well  known  that  the  forests  of 
Germany  have  always  been  as  much  infested  by  robbers  as 
its  castles  by  spectres ;  and,  at  this  time,  the  former  were  par- 
ticularly numerous,  from  the  hordes  of  disbanded  soldiers  wan- 
dering about  the  country.  It  will  not  appear  extraordinary, 
therefore,  that  the  cavaliers  were  attacked  by  a  gang  of  these 
stragglers,  in  the  midst  of  the  forest.  They  defended  them- 
selves with  bravery,  but  were  nearly  overpowered  when  the 
Count's  retinue  arrived  to  their  assistance.  At  sight  of  them 


122  THE   SKETCH-BOOK. 

the  robbers  fled,  but  not  until  the  Count  had  received  a  mortal 
wound.  He  was  slowly  and  carefully  conveyed  back  to  the  city 
of  Wurtzburg,  and  a  friar  summoned  from  a  neighboring  con- 
Vent,  who  was  famous  for  his  skill  in  administering  to  both  soul 
and  body.  But  half  of  his  skill  was  superfluous  ;  the  moments 
of  the  unfortunate  Count  were  numbered. 

With  his  dying  breath  he  entreated  his  friend  to  repair  in- 
stantly to  the  castle  of  Landshort,  and  explain  the  fatal  cause 
of  his  not  keeping  his  appointment  with  his  bride.  Though  not 
the  most  ardent  of  lovers,  he  was  one  of  the  most  punctilious 
of  men,  and  appeared  earnestly  solicitous  that  his  mission 
should  be  speedily  and  courteously  executed.  "  Unless  this  is 
done,"  said  he,  "  I  shall  not  sleep  quietly  in  my  grave  !  "  He 
repeated  these  last  words  with  peculiar  solemnity.  A  request, 
at  a  moment  so  impressive,  admitted  no  hesitation.  Starken- 
faust  endeavored  to  soothe  him  to  calmness  ;  promised  faith- 
fully to  execute  his  wish,  and  gave  him  his  hand  in  solemn 
pledge.  The  dying  man  pressed  it  in  acknowledgment,  but 
soon  lapsed  into  delirium  —  raved  about  his  bride  —  his  engage- 
ments^—  his  plighted  word;  ordered  his  horse,  that  he  might 
ride  to  the  castle  of  Landshort,  and  expired  in  the  fancied  act 
of  vaulting  into  the  saddle. 

Starkeufaust  bestowed  a  sigh,  and  a  soldier's  tear  on  the  un- 
timely fate  of  his  comrade  ;  and  then  pondered  on  the  awkward 
mission  he  had  undertaken.  His  heart  was  heavy,  and  his  head 
perplexed ;  for  he  was  to  present  himself  an  unbidden  guest 
among  hostile  people,  and  to  damp  their  festivity  with  tidings 
fatal  to  their  hopes.  Still  there  were  certain  whisperings  of 
curiosity  in  his  bosom  to  see  this  far-famed  beauty  of  Katzen- 
ellenbogen,  so  cautiously  shut  up  from  the  world ;  for  he  was  a 
passionate  admirer  of  the  sex,  and  there  was  a  dash  of  eccen- 
tricity and  enterprise  in  his  character,  that  made  him  fond  of  all 
singular  adventure. 

Previous  to  his  departure,  he  made  all  due  arrangements  with 
the  hoi}-  fraternity  of  the  convent  for  the  funeral  solemnities  of 
his  friend,  who  was  to  be  buried  in  the  cathedral  of  Wurtzburg, 
near  some  of  his  illustrious  relatives  ;  and  the  mourning  retinue 
of  the  Count  took  charge  of  his  remains. 

It  is  now  high  time  that  we  should  return  to  the  ancient  fam- 
ily of  Katzenellenbogen,  who  were  impatient  for  their  guest, 
and  still  more  for  their  dinner ;  and  to  the  worthy  little  Baron, 
whom  we  left  airing  himself  on  the  watch-tower. 

Night  closed  in,  but  still  no  guest  arrived.  The  Baron  de- 
scended from  the  tower  in  despair.  The  banquet,  which  had 


THE   SPECTRE  BRIDEGROOM.  123 

been  delayed  from  hour  to  hour,  could  no  longer  be  postponed. 
The  meats  were  already  overdone ;  the  cook  in  an  agony ;  and 
the  whole  household  had  the  look  of  a  garrison  that  had  been 
reduced  by  famine.  The  Baron  was  obliged  reluctantly  to  give 
orders  for  the  feast  without  the  presence  of  the  guest.  All 
were  seated  at  table,  and  just  on  the  point  of  commencing, 
when  the  sound  of  a  horn  from  without  the  gate  gave  notice 
of  the  approach  of  a  stranger.  Another  long  blast  filled  the 
old  courts  of  the  castle  with  its  echoes,  and  was  answered  by 
the  warder  from  the  walls.  The  Baron  hastened  to  receive  his 
future  son-in-law. 

The  drawbridge  had  been  let  down,  and  the  stranger  was 
before  the  gate.  He  was  a  tall,  gallant  cavalier,  mounted  on  a 
black  steed.  His  countenance  was  pale,  but  he  had  a  beaming, 
romantic  eye,  and  an  air  of  stately  melancholy.  The  Baron 
was  a  little  mortified  that  he  should  have  come  in  this  simple, 
solitary  style.  His  dignity  for  a  moment  was  ruffled,  and  he 
felt  disposed  to  consider  it  a  want  of  proper  respect  for  the  im- 
portant occasion,  and  the  important  family  with  which  he  was 
to  be  connected.  He  pacified  himself,  however,  with  the  con- 
clusion that  it  must  have  been  youthful  impatience  which  had 
induced  him  thus  to  spur  on  sooner  than  his  attendants. 

"  I  am  sorry,"  said  the  stranger,  "  to  break  in  upon  you  thus 
unseasonably  —  " 

Here  the  Baron  interrupted  him  with  a  world  of  compliments 
and  greetings ;  for,  to  tell  the  truth,  he  prided  himself  upon  his 
courtesy  and  eloquence.  The  stranger  attempted,  once  or 
twice,  to  stem  the  torrent  of  words,  but  in  vain ;  so  he  bowed 
his  head  and  suffered  it  to  flow  on.  By  the  time  the  Baron  had 
come  to  a  pause,  they  had  reached  the  inner  court  of  the  castle  ; 
and  the  stranger  was  again  about  to  speak,  when  he  was  once 
more  interrupted  by  the  appearance  of  the  female  part  of  the 
family,  leading  forth  the  shrinking  and  blushing  bride.  He 
uazed  on  her  for  a  moment  as  one  entranced ;  it  seemed  as  if 
his  whole  soul  beamed  forth  in  the  gaze,  and  rested  upon  that 
lovely  form.  One  of  the  maiden  aunts  whispered  something  in 
her  ear ;  she  made  an  effort  to  speak  ;  her  moist  blue  eye  was 
timidly  raised,  gave  a  shy  glance  of  inquiry  on  the  stranger, 
and  was  cast  again  to  the  ground.  The  words  died  away  ;  but 
there  was  a  sweet  smile  playing  about  her  lips,  and  a  soft  dim- 
pling of  the  cheek,  that  showed  her  glance  had  not  been  un- 
satisfactory. It  was  impossible  for  a  girl  of  the  fond  age  of 
eighteen,  highly  predisposed  for  love  and  matrimony,  not  to  be 
pleased  with  so  gallant  a  cavalier. 


124  THE   SKETCH-BOOK. 

The  late  hour  at  which  the  guest  had  arrived,  left  no  time 
for  parley.  The  Baron  was  peremptory,  and  deferred  all  par- 
ticular conversation  until  the. morning,  and  led  the  way  to  the 
untasted  banquet. 

It  was  served  up  in  the  great  hall  of  the  castle.  Around  the 
walls  hung  the  hard-favored  portraits  of  the  heroes  of  the  house 
of  Katzenelleubogen,  and  the  trophies  which  they  had  gained 
in  the  field  and  in  the  chase.  Hacked  corselets,  splintered 
jousting  spears,  and  tattered  banners,  were  mingled  with  the 
spoils  of  sylvan  warfare :  the  jaws  of  the  wolf,  and  the  tusks 
of  the  boar,  grinned  horribly  among  cross-bows  and  battle- 
axes,  and  a  huge  pair  of  antlers  branched  immediately  over  the 
head  of  the  youthful  bridegroom. 

The  cavalier  took  but  little  notice  of  the  company  or  the 
entertainment.  He  scarcely  tasted  the  banquet,  but  seemed 
absorbed  in  admiration  of  his  bride.  He  conversed  in  a  low 
tone,  that  could  not  be  overheard  —  for  the  language  of  love  is 
never  loud ;  but  where  is  the  female  ear  so  dull  that  it  cannot 
catch  the  softest  whisper  of  the  lover?  There  was  a  mingled 
tenderness  and  gravity  in  his  manner,  that  appeared  to  have  a 
powerful  effect  upon  the  young  lady.  Her  color  came  and 
went,  as  she  listened  with  deep  attention.  Now  and  then  she 
made  some  blushing  reply,  and  when  his  eye  was  turned  away, 
she  would  steal  a  sidelong  glance  at  his  romantic  countenance, 
and  heave  a  gentle  sigh  of  tender  happiness.  It  was  evident 
that  the  young  couple  were  completely  enamoured.  The  aunts, 
who  were  deeply  versed  in  the  mysteries  of  the  heart,  de- 
clared that  they  had  fallen  in  love  with  each  other  at  first 
sight. 

The  feast  went  on  merrily,  or  at  least  noisily,  for  the  guests 
were  all  blessed  with  those  keen  appetites  that  attend  upon 
light  purses  and  mountain  air.  The  Baron  told  his  best  and 
longest  stories,  and  never  had  he  told  them  so  well,  or  with 
such  great  effect.  If  there  was  any  thing  marvellous,  his 
auditors  were  lost  in  astonishment ;  and  if  any  thing  facetious, 
they  were  sure  to  laugh  exactly  in  the  right  place.  The  Baron, 
it  is  true,  like  most  great  men,  was  too  dignified  to  utter  any 
joke,  but  a  dull  one  ;  it  was  always  enforced,  however,  by  a 
bumper  of  excellent  Hockheimer;  and  even  a  dull  joke,  at 
one's  own  table,  served  up  with  jolly  old  wine,  is  irresistible. 
Many  good  things  were  said  by  poorer  and  keener  wits,  that 
would  not  bear  repeating,  except  on  similar  occasions ;  many 
sly  speeches  whispered  in  ladies'  ears,  that  almost  convulsed 
them  with  suppressed  laughter ;  and  a  song  or  two  roared  out 


THE  SPECTRE  BRIDEGROOM.  125 

by  a  poor,  but  merry  and  broad-faced  cousin  of  the  Baron,  that 
absolutely  made  the  maiden  aunts  hold  up  their  fans. 

Amidst  all  this  revelry,  the  stranger  guest  maintained  a  most 
singular  and  unseasonable  gravity.  His  countenance  assumed 
a  deeper  cast  of  dejection  as  the  evening  advanced,  and, 
strange  as  it  may  appear,  even  the  Baron's  jokes  seemed  only 
to  render  him  the  more  melancholy.  At  times  he  was  lost  in 
thought,  and  at  times  there  was  a  perturbed  and  restless  wan- 
dering of  the  eye  that  bespoke  a  mind  but  ill  at  ease.  His 
conversations  with  the  bride  became  more  and  more  earnest 
and  mysterious.  Lowering  clouds  began  to  steal  over  the  fair 
serenity  of  her  brow,  and  tremors  to  run  through  her  tender 
frame. 

All  this  could  not  escape  the  notice  of  the  company.  Their 
gayety  was  chilled  by  the  unaccountable  gloom  of  the  bride- 
groom ;  their  spirits  were  infected ;  whispers  and  glances  were 
interchanged,  accompanied  by  shrugs  and  dubious  shakes  of  the 
head.  The  song  and  the  laugh  grew  less  and  less  frequent ; 
there  were  dreary  pauses  in  the  conversation,  which  were  at 
length  succeeded  by  wild  tales,  and  supernatural  legends. 
One  dismal  story  produced  another  still  more  dismal,  and  the 
Baron  nearly  frightened  some  of  the  ladies  into  hysterics 
with  the  history  of  the  goblin  horseman  that  carried  away 
the  fair  Leonora  —  a  dreadful  story,  which  ha  s  since  been 
put  into  excellent  verse,  and  is  read  and  believed  by  all  the 
world. 

The  bridegroom  listened  to  this  tale  with  profound  attention. 
He  kept  his  eyes  steadily  fixed  on  the  Baron,  and  as  the  story 
drew  to  a  close,  began  gradually  to  rise  from  his  seat,  growing 
taller  and  taller,  until,  in  the  Baron's  entranced  eye,  he  seemed 
almost  to  tower  into  a  giant.  The  moment  the  tale  was  fin- 
ished, he  heaved  a  deep  sigh,  and  took  a  solemn  farewell  of  the 
company.  They  were  all  amazement.  The  Baron  was  per- 
fectly thunderstruck. 

"What!  going  to  leave  the  castle  at  midnight?  why,  every 
thing  was  prepared  for  his  reception  ;  a  chamber  was  ready  for 
him  if  he  wished  to  retire." 

The  stranger  shook  his  head  mournfully,  and  mysteriously ; 
"  I  must  lay  my  head  in  a  different  chamber  to-night !  " 

There  was  something  in  this  reply,  and  the  tone  in  which  it 
was  uttered,  that  made  the  Baron's  heart  misgive  him  ;  but  he 
rallied  his  forces,  and  repeated  his  hospitable  entreaties.  The 
stranger  shook  his  head  silently,  but  positively,  at  every  offer ; 
and,  waving  his  farewell  to  the  company,  stalked  slowly  out  of 


126  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

the    hall.     The   maiden  aunts  were  absolutely  petrified  —  the 
bride  hung  her  head,  and  a  tear  stole  to  her  eye. 

The  Baron  followed  the  stranger  to  the  great  court  of  the 
castle,  where  the  black  charger  stood  pawing  the  earth,  and 
snorting  with  impatience.  When  they  had  reached  the  portal, 
whose  deep  archway  was  dimly  lighted  by  a  cresset,  the  stran- 
ger paused,  and  addressed  the  Baron  in  a  hollow  tone  of  voice, 
which  the  vaulted  roof  rendered  still  more  sepulchral.  "  Now 
that  we  are  alone,"  said  he,.  "  I  will  impart  to  you  the  reason  of 
my  going.  I  have  a  solemn,  an  indispensable  engagement  — 

"  Why,"  said  the  Baron, ."  cannot  you  send  some  one  in  your 
place  ? ' ' 

"  It  admits  of  no  substitute  —  I  must  attend  it  in  person  —  I 
must  away  to  Wurtzburg  cathedral  — 

"Ay,"  said  the  Baron,  plucking  up  spirit,  "but  not  until 
to-morrow  —  to-morrow  you  shall  take  your  bride  there." 

"No!  no!"  replied  the  stranger,  with  ten-fold  solemnity, 
"my  engagement  is  with  no  bride  —  the  worms!  the  worms 
expect  me  !  I  am  a  dead  man  — I  have  been  slain  by  robbers  — 
my  body  lies  at  Wurtzburg  —  at  midnight  I  am  to  be  buried  — 
the  grave  is  waiting  for  me  —  I  must  keep  my  appointment ! ' ' 

He  sprang  on  his  black  charger,  dashed  over  the  drawbridge, 
and  the  clattering  of  his  horse's  hoofs  was  lost  in  the  whistling 
of  the  night-blast. 

The  Baron  returned  to  the  hall  in  the  utmost  consternation, 
and  related  what  had  passed.  Two  ladies  fainted  outright; 
others  sickened  at  the  idea  of  having  banqueted  with  a  spectre. 
It  was  the  opinion  of  some,  that  this  might  be  the  wild  hunts- 
man famous  in  German  legend.  Some  talked  of  mountain 
sprites,  of  wood-demons,  and  of  other  supernatural  beings, 
with  which  the  good  people  of  Germany  have  been  so  griev- 
ously harassed  since  time  immemorial.  One  of  the  poor  rela 
tions  ventured  to  suggest  that  it  might  be  some  sportive  evasion 
of  the  young  cavalier,  and  that  the  very  gloominess  of  the  ca- 
price seemed  to  accord  with  so  melancholy  a  personage.  This, 
however,  drew  on  him  the  indignation  of  the  whole  company,  and 
especially  of  the  Baron,  who  looked  upon  him  as  little  better  than 
an  infidel ;  so  that  he  was  fain  to  abjure  his  heresy  as  speedily 
as  possible,  and  come  into  the  faith  of  the  true  believers. 

But,  whatever  may  have  been  the  doubts  entertained,  they 
were  completely  put  to  an  end  by  the  arrival,  next  day,  of  reg- 
ular missives,  confirming  the  intelligence  of  the  young  Count's 
murder,  and  his  interment  in  Wurtzburg  cathedral. 

The  dismay  at  the  castle  may  well  be  imagined.     The  Baron 


THE  SPECTRE  BRIDEGftOOM.  12T 

shut  himself  up  in  his  chamber.  The  guests  who  had  come  to 
rejoice  with  him  could  not  think  of  abandoning  him  in  his  dis- 
tress. They  wandered  about  the  courts,  or  collected  in  groups 
in  the  hall,  shaking  their  heads  and  shrugging  their  shoulders, 
at  the  troubles  of  so  good  a  man  ;  and  sat  longer  than  ever  at 
table,  and  ate  and  drank  more  stoutly  than  ever,  by  way  of 
keeping  up  their  spirits.  But  the  situation  of  the  widowed 
bride  was  the  most  pitiable.  To  have  lost  a  husband  before 
she  had  even  embraced  him  —  and  such  a  husband !  if  the  very 
spectre  could  be  so  gracious  and  noble  what  must  have  been  the 
living  man  ?  She  filled  the  house  with  lamentations. 

On  the  night  of  the  second  day  of  her  widowhood,  she  had 
retired  to  her  chamber,  accompanied  by  one  of  her  aunts,  who 
insisted  on  sleeping  with  her.  The  aunt,  who  was  one  of  the 
best  tellers  of  ghost  stories  in  all  Germany,  had  just  been  re- 
counting one  of  her  longest,  and  had  fallen  asleep  in  the  very 
midst  of  it.  The  chamber  was  remote,  and  overlooked  a  small 
garden.  The  niece  lay  pensively  gazing  at  the  beams  of  the 
rising  moon,  as  they  trembled  on  the  leaves  of  an  aspen  tree 
before  the  lattice.  The  castle  clock  had  just  told  midnight, 
when  a  soft  strain  of  music  stole  up  from  the  garden.  She 
rose  hastily  from  her  bed,  and  stepped  lightly  to  the  window. 
A  tall  figure  stood  among  the  shadows  of  the  trees.  As  it 
raised  its  head,  a  beam  of  moonlight  fell  upon  the  countenance. 
Heaven  and  earth !  she  beheld  the  Spectre  Bridegroom  !  A 
loud  shriek  at  that  moment  burst  upon  her  ear,  and  her  aunt, 
who  had  been  awakened  by  the  music,  and  had  followed  her 
silently  to  the  window,  fell  into  her  arms.  When  she  looked 
again,  the  spectre  had  disappeared. 

Of  the  two  females,  the  aunt  now  required  the  most  soothing, 
for  she  was  perfectly  beside  herself  with  terror.  As  to  the 
young  lady,  there  was  something,  even  in  the  spectre  of  her 
lover,  that  seemed  endearing.  There  was  still  the  semblance 
of  manly  beauty  ;  and  though  the  shadow  of  a  man  is  but  little 
calculated  to  satisfy  the  affections  of  a  love-sick  girl,  yet,  where 
the  substance  is  not  to  be  had,  even  that  is  consoling.  The 
aunt  declared  she  would  never  sleep  in  that  chamber  again  ;  the 
niece,  for  once,  was  refractory,  and  declared  as  strongly  that 
she  would  sleep  in  no  other  in  the  castle :  the  consequence  was, 
that  she  had  to  sleep  in  it  alone  ;  but  she  drew  a  promise  from 
her  aunt  not  to  relate  the  story  of  the  spectre,  lest  she  should 
be  denied  the  only  melancholy  pleasure  left  her  on  earth  —  that 
of  inhabiting  the  chamber  over  which  the  guardian  shade  of  her 
lover  kept  its  nightly  vigils. 


128  THE  SKETCH-IS OOK. 

How  long  the  good  old  lady  would  have  observed  this  prom- 
ise  is  uncertain,  for  she  dearly  loved  to  talk  of  the  marvellous, 
and  there  is  a  triumph  in  being  the  first  to  tell  a  frightful  story ; 
it  is,  however,  still  quoted  in  the  neighborhood,  as  a  memora- 
ble instance  of  female  secrecy,  that  she  kept  it  to  herself  for  a 
whole  week ;  when  she  was  suddenly  absolved  from  all  further 
restraint,  by  intelligence  brought  to  the  breakfast-table  one 
morning  that  the  young  lady  was  not  to  be  found.  Her  room 
was  empty  —  the  bed  had  not  been  slept  in  —  the  window  was 
open  —  and  the  bird  had  flown  ! 

The  astonishment  and  concern  with  which  the  intelligence 
was  received,  can  only  be  imagined  by  those  who  have  wit- 
nessed the  agitation  which  the  mishaps  of  a  great  man  cause 
among  his  friends.  Even  the  poor  relations  paused  for  a 
moment  from  the  indefatigable  labors  of  the  trencher ;  when 
the  aunt,  who  had  at  first  been  struck  speechless,  wrung  her 
hands  and  shrieked  out,  "  The  goblin!  the  goblin!  she's  car- 
ried away  by  the  goblin  !  " 

In  a  few  words  she  related  the  fearful  scene  of  the  garden, 
and  concluded  that  the  spectre  must  have  carried  off  his  bride. 
Two  of  the  domestics  corroborated  the  opinion,  for  they  had 
heard  the  clattering  of  a  horse's  hoofs  down  the  mountain  about 
midnight,  and  had  no  doubt  that  it  was  the  spectre  on  his  black 
charger,  bearing  her  away  to  the  tomb.  All  present  were 
struck  with  the  direful  probability ;  for  events  of  the  kind  are 
extremely  common  in  Germany,  as  many  well-authenticated  his- 
tories bear  witness. 

What  a  lamentable  situation  was  that  of  the  poor  Baron ! 
What  a  heart-rending  dilemma  for  a  fond  father,  and  a  mem- 
ber of  the  great  family  of  Katzenellenbogen  !  His  only  daugh- 
ter had  either  been  rapt  away  to  the  grave,  or  he  was  to  have 
some  wood-demon  for  a  son-in-law,  and,  perchance,  a  troop  of 
goblin  grand-children.  As  usual,  he  was  completely  bewil- 
dered, and  all  the  castle  in  an  uproar.  The  men  were  ordered 
to  take  horse,  and  scour  every  road  and  path  and  glen  of  the 
Odenwald.  §? he  Baron  himself  had  just  drawn  on  his  jack- 
boots, girded  on  his  sword,  and  was  about  to  mount  his  steed 
to  sally  forth  on  the  doubtful  quest,  when  he  was  brought  to  a 
pause  by  a  new  apparition.  A  lady  was  seen  approaching  the 
castle,  mounted  on  a  palfrey  attended  by  a  cavalier  on  horse- 
back. She  galloped  up  to  the  gate,  sprang  from  her  horse,  and 
falling  at  the  Baron's  feet  embraced  his  knees.  It  was  his  lost 
daughter,  and  her  companion  —  the  Spectre  Bridegroom  !  The 
Baron  was  astounded.  He  looked  at  his  daughter,  then  at  the 


THE  SPECTRE  BRIDEGROOM.  129 

Spectre,  and  almost  doubted  the  evidence  of  his  senses.  The 
latter,  too,  was  wonderfully  improved  in  his  appearance,  since 
his  visit  to  the  world  of  spirits.  His  dress  was  splendid,  and 
set  off  a  noble  figure  of  manly  symmetry.  He  was  no  longer 
pale  and  melancholy.  His  fine  countenance  was  flushed  with 
the  glow  of  youth,  and  joy  rioted  in  his  large  dark  eye. 

The  mysterj  was  soon  cleared  up.  The  cavalier  (for  in 
truth,  as  you  must  have  known  all  the  while,  he  was  no  goblin) 
announced  himself  as  Sir  Herman  Von  Starkenfaust.  He  re- 
lated his  adventure  with  the  young  Count.  He  told  how  he 
had  hastened  to  the  castle  to  deliver  the  unwelcome  tidings,  but 
that  the  eloquence  of  the  Baron  had  interrupted  him  in  every 
attempt  to  tell  his  tale.  How  the  sight  of  the  bride  had  com- 
pletely captivated  him,  and  that  to  pass  a  few  hours  near  her, 
he  had  tacitly  suffered  the  mistake  to  continue.  How  he  had 
been  sorely  perplexed  in  what  way  to  make  a  decent  retreat, 
until  the  Baron's  goblin  stories  had  suggested  his  eccentric 
exit.  How,  fearing  the  feudal  hostility  of  the  family,  he  had 
repeated  his  visits  by  stealth  —  had  haunted  the  garden  be- 
neath the  young  lady's  window  —  had  wooed  —  had  won  — 
had  borne  away  in  triumph  —  and,  in  a  word,  had  wedded  the 
fair. 

Under  any  other  circumstances,  the  Baron  would  have  been 
inflexible,  for  he  was  tenacious  of  paternal  authority,  and  de- 
voutly obstinate  in  all  family  feuds  ;  but  he  loved  his  daughter ; 
he  had  lamented  her  as  lost ;  he  rejoiced  to  find  her  still  alive ; 
and,  though  her  husband  was  of  a  hostile  house,  yet,  thank 
Heaven,  he  was  not  a  goblin.  There  was  something,  it  must 
be  acknowledged,  that  did  not  exactly  accord  with  his  notions 
of  strict  veracity,  in  the  joke  the  knight  had  passed  upon  him 
of  his  being  a  dead  man ;  but  several  old  friends  present,  who 
had  served  in  the  wars,  assured  him  that  every  stratagem  was 
excusable  in  love,  and  that  the  cavalier  was  entitled  to  especial 
privilege,  having  lately  served  as  a  trooper. 

Matters,  therefore,  were  happily  arranged.  The  Baron  par- 
doned the  young  couple  on  the  spot.  The  revels- at  the  castle 
were  resumed.  The  poor  relations  overwhelmed  this  new  mem- 
ber of  the  family  with  loving  kindness ;  he  was  so  gallant,  so 
generous  —  and  so  rich.  The  aunts,  it  is  true,  were  somewhat 
scandalized  that  their  system  of  strict  seclusion  and  passive 
obedience  should  be  so  badly  exemplified,  but  attributed  it  all 
to  their  negligence  in  not  having  the  windows  grated.  One  of 
them  was  particularly  mortified  at  having  her  marvellous  story 
marred,  and  that  the  only  spectre  she  had  ever  seen  should  turn 


130  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

out  a  counterfeit ;  but  the  niece  seemed  perfectly  happy  at  hav- 
ing found  him  substantial  flesh  and  blood  —  and  so  the  story 
ends. 


WESTMINSTER   ABBEY.    ' 

When  I  behold,  wijth  deep  astonishment, 
To  famous  Westminster  how  there  resorte, 
Living  in  brasse  or  stony  monument, 
The  princes  and  the  worthies  of  all  sorte; 
Doe  not  I  see  reformde  nobilitie, 
Without  contempt,  or  pride,  or  ostentation, 
And  looke  upon  offenselesse  majesty, 
Naked  of  pomp  or  earthly  domination? 
And  how  a  play-game  of  a  painted  stone 
Contents  the  quiet  now  and  silent  sprites, 
Whome  all  the  world  which  late  they  stood  upon, 
Could  not  content  or  quench  their  appetites. 

Life  is  a  frost  of  cold  felicitie, 

And  death  the  thaw  of  all  our  vanitie. 

Christolero's  Epigrams,  by  T.  B.,  1598. 

ON  one  of  those  sober  and  rather  melancholy  days,  in  the 
latter  part  of  autumn,  when  the  shadows  of  morning  and  even- 
ing almost  mingle  together,  and  throw  a  gloom  over  the  decline 
of  the  year,  I  passed  several  hours  in  rambling  about  Westmin- 
ster Abbey.  There  was  something  congenial  to  the  season  in 
the  mournful  magnificence  of  the  old  pile ;  and  as  I  passed  its 
threshold,  it  seemed  like  stepping  back  into  the  regions  of  antiq- 
uity, and  losing  myself  among  the  shades  of  former  ages. 

I  entered  from  the  inner  court  of  Westminster  school,  through 
a  long,  low,  vaulted  passage,  that  had  an  almost  subterranean 
look,  being  dimly  lighted  in  one  part  by  circular  perforations  in 
the  massive  walls.  Through  this  dark  avenue  I  had  a  distant 
view  of  the  cloisters,  with  the  figure  of  an  old  verger,  in  his 
black  gown,  moving  along  their  shadowy  vaults,  and  seeming 
like  a  spectre  from  one  of  the  neighboring  tombs. 

The  approach  to  the  abbey  through  these  gloomy  monastic 
remains,  prepares  the  mind  for  its  solemn  contemplation.  The 
cloister  still  retains  something  of  the  quiet  and  seclusion  of 
former  days.  The  gray  walls  are  discolored  by  damps,  and 
crumbling  with  age  ;  a  coat  of  hoary  moss  has  gathered  over 
the  inscriptions  of  the  mural  monuments,  and  obscured  the 
death's  heads,  and  other  funeral  emblems.  The  sharp  touches 
of  the  chisel  are  gone  from  the  rich  tracery  of  the  arches ;  the 


WESTMINSTER  ABBEY.  131 

roses  which  adorned  the  key-stones  have  lost  their  leafy  beauty  ; 
every  thing  bears  marks  of  the  gradual  dilapidations  of  time, 
which  yet  has  something  touching  and  pleasing  in  its  very 
decay. 

The  sun  was  pouring  down  a  yellow  autumnal  ray  into  the 
square  of  the  cloisters  ;  beaming  upon  a  scanty  plot  of  grass  in 
the  centre,  and  lighting  up  an  angle  of  the  vaulted  passage 
with  a  kind  of  dusky  splendor.  From  between  the  arcades, 
the  eye  glanced  up  to  a  bit  of  blue  sky,  or  a  passing  cloud  ;  and 
beheld  the  sun-gilt  pinnacles  of  the  abbey  towering  into  the 
azure  heaven. 

As  I  paced  the  cloisters,  sometimes  contemplating  this  min- 
gled picture  of  glory  and  decay,  and  sometimes  endeavoring  to 
decipher  the  inscriptions  on  the  tombstones,  which  formed  the 
pavement  beneath  my  feet,  my  eye  was  attracted  to  three 
figures,  rudely  carved  in  relief,  but  nearly  worn  away  by  the 
footsteps  of  many  generations.  They  were  the  effigies  of  three 
of  the  early  abbots ;  the  epitaphs  were  entirely  effaced ;  the 
names  alone  remained,  having  no  doubt  been  renewed  in  later 
times ;  (Vitalis  Abbas.  1082,  and  Gislebertus  Crispinus.  Ab- 
bas. 1114,  and  Laurentius.  Abbas.  1176.)  I  remained  some 
little  while,  musing  over  these  casual  relics  of  antiquity,  thus 
left  like  wrecks  upon  this  distant  shore  of  time,  telling  no  tale 
but  that  such  beings  had  been  and  had  perished ;  teaching  no 
moral  but  the  futility  of  that  pride  which  hopes  still  to  exact 
homage  in  its  ashes,  and  to  live  in  an  inscription.  A  little 
longer,  and  even  these  faint  records  will  be  obliterated,  and  the 
monument  will  cease  to  be  a  memorial.  Whilst  I  was  yet  look- 
ing down  upon  these  gravestones,  I  was  roused  by  the  sound  of 
the  abbey  clock,  reverberating  from  buttress  to  buttress,  and 
echoing  among  the  cloisters.  It  is  almost  startling  to  hear  this 
warning  of  departed  time  sounding  among  the  tombs,  and  tell- 
ing the  lapse  of  the  hour,  which,  like  a  billow,  has  rolled  us 
onward  towards  the  grave. 

I  pursued  my  walk  to  an  arched  door  opening  to  the  interior 
of  the  abbey.  On  entering  here,  the  magnitude  of  the  building 
breaks  fully  upon  the  mind,  contrasted  with  the  vaults  of  the 
cloisters.  The  eyes  gaze  with  wonder  at  clustered  columns  of 
gigantic  dimensions,  with  arches  springing  from  them  to  such 
an  amazing  height ;  and  man  wandering  about  their  bases, 
shrunk  into  insignificance  in  comparison  with  his  own  handi- 
work. The  spaciousness  and  gloom  of  this  vast  edifice  produce 
a  profound  and  mysterious  awe.  We  step  cautiously  and  softly 
about,  as  if  fearful  of  disturbing  the  hallowed  silence  of  the 


132  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

tomb ;  while  every  footfall  whispers  along  the  walls,  and  chat- 
ters among  the  sepulchres,  making  us  more  sensible  of  the  quiet 
we  have  interrupted. 

It  seems  as  if  the  awful  nature  of  the  place  presses  down 
upon  the  soul,  and  hushes  the  beholder  into  noiseless  reverence. 
We  feel  that  we  are  surrounded  by  the  congregated  bones  of 
the  great  men  of  past  times,  who  have  filled  history  with  their 
deeds,  and  the  earth  with  their  renown.  And  yet  it  almost  pro- 
vokes a  smile  at  the  vanity  of  human  ambition,  to  see  how  they 
are  crowded  together,  and  jostled  in  the  dust ;  what  parsimony 
is  observed  in  doling  out  a  scant}7  nook  —  a  gloomy  corner  —  a 
little  portion  of  earth  to  those  whom,  when  alive,  kingdoms 
could  not  satisfy ;  and  how  many  shapes,  and  forms,  and  arti- 
fices, are  devised  to  catch  the  casual  notice  of  the  passenger, 
and  save  from  forgetfulness,  for  a  few  short  years,  a  name 
which  once  aspired  to  occupy  ages  of  the  world's  thought  and 
admiration. 

I  passed  some  time  in  Poet's  Corner,  which  occupies  an  end 
of  one  of  the  transepts  or  cross  aisles  of  the  abbey.  The  monu- 
ments are  generally  simple  ;  for  the  lives  of  literary  men  afford 
no  striking  themes  for  the  sculptor.  Shakspeare  and  Addison 
have  statues  erected  to  their  memories ;  but  the  greater  part 
have  busts,  medallions,  and  sometimes  mere  inscriptions.  Not- 
withstanding the  simplicity  of  these  memorials,  I  have  always 
observed  that  the  visitors  to  the  abbey  remain  'ongest  about 
them.  A  kinder  and  fonder  feeling  takes  place  of  that  cold 
curiosity  or  vague  admiration  with  which  the}'  gaze  on  the 
splendid  monuments  of  the  great  and  the  heroic.  They  linger 
about  these  as  about  the  tombs  of  friends  and  companions  ;  for 
indeed  there  is  something  of  companionship  between  the  author 
and  the  reader.  Other  men  are  known  to  posterity  only 
through  the  medium  of  history,  which  is  continually  growing 
faint  and  obscure  ;  but  the  intercourse  between  the  author  and 
his  fellow-men  is  ever  new,  active,  and  immediate.  He  has 
lived  for  them  more  than  for  himself ;  he  has  sacrificed  sur- 
rounding enjoyments,  and  shut  himself  up  from  the  delights  of 
social  life,  that  he  might  the  more  intimately  commune  with 
distant  minds  and  distant  ages.  Well  may  the  world  cherish 
his  renown  ;  for  it  has  been  purchased,  not  b}-  deeds  of  violence 
and  blood,  but  by  the  diligent  dispensation  of  pleasure.  Well 
may  posterity  be  grateful  to  his  memory  ;  for  he  has  left  it  an 
inheritance,  not  of  empty  names  and  sounding  actions,  but 
whole  treasures  of  wisdom,  bright  gems  of  thought,  and  golden 
veins  of  language. 


WESTMINSTER  ABBEY.  133 

From  Poet's  Corner  I  continued  ray  stroll  towards  that  part 
of  the  abbey  which  contains  the  sepulchres  of  the  kings.  I 
wandered  among  what  once  were  chapels,  but  which  are  now 
occupied  by  the  tombs  and  monuments  of  the  great.  At  every 
turn,  I  met  with  some  illustrious  name,  or  the  cognizance  of 
some  powerful  house  renowned  in  history.  As  the  eye  darts 
into  these  dusky  chambers  of  death,  it  catches  glimpses  of 
quaint  effigies :  some  kneeling  in  niches,  as  if  in  devotion ; 
others  stretched  upon  the  tombs,  with  hands  piously  pressed 
together ;  warriors  in  armor,  as  if  reposing  after  battle  ;  prel- 
ates, with  crosiers  and  mitres ;  and  nobles  in  robes  and  coro- 
nets, lying  as  it  were  in  state.  In  glancing  over  this  scene,  so 
strangely  populous,  yet  where  every  form  is  so  still  and  silent, 
it  seems  almost  as  if  we  were  treading  a  mansion  of  that  fabled 
city,  where  every  being  had  been  suddenly  transmuted  into 
stone. 

I  paused  to  contemplate  a  tomb  on  which  lay  the  effigy  of  a 
knight  in  complete  armor.  A  large  buckler  was  on  one  arm  ; 
the  hands  were  pressed  together  in  supplication  upon  the 
breast ;  the  face  was  almost  covered  by  the  morion ;  the  legs 
were  crossed  in  token  of  the  warrior's  having  been  engaged  in 
the  hoi}'  war.  It  was  the  tomb  of  a  crusader ;  of  one  of  those 
military  enthusiasts,  who  so  strangely  mingled  religion  and  ro- 
mance, and  whose  exploits  form  the  connecting  link  between 
fact  and  fiction  —  between  the  history  and  the  fairy  tale.  There 
is  something  extremely  picturesque  in  the  tombs  of  these 
adventurers,  decorated  as  they  are  with  rude  armorial  bear- 
ings and  Gothic  sculpture.  They  comport  with  the  antiquated 
chapels  in  which  they  are  generally  found ;  and  in  considering 
them,  the  imagination  is  apt  to  kindle  with  the  legendary 
associations,  the  romantic  fiction,  the  chivalrous  pomp  and 
pageantry,  which  poetry  has  spread  over  the  wars  for  the  Sep* 
ulchre  of  Christ.  They  are  the  relics  of  times  utterly  gone  by  ; 
of  beings  passed  from  recollection ;  of  customs  and  manners 
with  which  ours  have  no  affinity.  They  are  like  objects  from 
some  strange  and  distant  land,  of  which  we  have  no  certain 
knowledge,  and  about  which  all  our  conceptions  are  vague  and 
visionary.  There  is  something  extremely  solemn  and  awful  in 
those  effigies  on  Gothic  tombs,  extended  as  if  in  the  sleep  of 
death,  or  in  the  supplication  of  the  dying  hour.  They  have  an 
effect  infinitely  more  impressive  on  my  feelings  than  the  fanci- 
ful attitudes,  the  overwrought  conceits,  and  allegorical  groups, 
which  abound  on  modern  monuments.  I  have  been  struck, 
also,  with  the  superiority  of  many  of  the  old  sepulchral  iuscrip- 


134  THE   SKETCH-BOOK. 

tions.  There  was  a  noble  way,  in  former  times,  of  saying 
things  simply,  and  yet  saying  them  proudly  :  and  I  do  not  know 
an  epitaph  that  breathes  a  loftier  consciousness  of  family  worth 
and  honorable  lineage,  than  one  which  affirms,  of  a  noble 
house,  that  ''all  the  brothers  were  brave,  and  all  the  sisters 
virtuous." 

In  the  opposite  transept  to  Poet's  Corner,  stands  a  monument 
which  is  among  the  most  renowned  achievements  of  modern 
art ;  but  which,  to  me,  appears  horrible  rather  than  sublime. 
It  is  the  tomb  of  Mrs.  Nightingale,  by  Roubillac.  The  bottom 
of  the  monument  is  represented  as  throwing  open  its  marble 
doors,  and  a  sheeted  skeleton  is  starting  forth.  The  shroud  is 
falling  from  his  fleshless  frame  as  he  launches  his  dart  at  his 
victim.  She  is  sinking  into  her  affrighted  husband's  arms, 
who  strives,  with  vain  and  frantic  effort,  to  avert  the  blow. 
The  whole  is  executed  with  terrible  truth  and  spirit ;  we  almost 
fancy  we  hear  the  gibbering  yell  of  triumph,  bursting  from  the 
distended  jaws  of  the  spectre.  — But  why  should  we  thus  seek 
to  clothe  death  with  unnecessary  terrors,  and  to  spread  horrors 
round  the  tomb  of  those  we  love  ?  The  grave  should  be  sur- 
rounded by  every  thing  that  might  inspire  tenderness  and  ven- 
eration for  the  dead  ;  or  that  might  win  the  living  to  virtue.  It 
is  the  place,  not  of  disgust  and  dismay,  but  of  sorrow  and 
meditation. 

While  wandering  about  these  gloomy  vaults  and  silent  aisles, 
studying  the  records  of  the  dead,  the  sound  of  busy  existence 
from  without  occasionally  reaches  the  ear :  —  the  rumbling  of 
the  passing  equipage  ;  the  murmur  of  the  multitude  ;  or  perhaps 
the  light  laugh  of  pleasure.  The  contrast  is  striking  with  the 
deathlike  repose  around  ;  and  it  has  a  strange  effect  upon  the 
feelings,  thus  to  hear  the  surges  of  active  life  hurrying  along 
and  beating  against  the  very  walls  of  the  sepulchre. 

I  continued  in  this  way  to  move  from  tomb  to  tomb,  and 
from  chapel  to  chapel.  The  day  was  gradually  wearing  away  ; 
the  distant  tread  of  loiterers  about  the  abbey  grew  less  and  less 
frequent ;  the  sweet-tongued  bell  was  summoning  to  evening 
prayers  ;  and  I  saw  at  a  distance  the  choristers,  in  their  white 
surplices,  crossing  the  aisle  and  entering  the  choir.  I  stood 
before  the  entrance  to  Henry  the  Seventies  chapel.  A  flight  of 
steps  leads  up  to  it,  through  a  deep  and  gloomy,  but  magnifi- 
cent arch.  Great  gates  of  brass,  richly  and  delicately  wrought, 
turn  heavily  upon  their  hinges,  as  if  proudly  reluctant  to 
admit  the  feet  of  common  mortals  into  this  most  gorgeous  of 
sepulchres. 


WESTMINSTER   ABBEY.  135 

On  entering,  the  eye  is  astonished  by  the  pomp  of  architec- 
ture, and  the  elaborate  beauty  of  sculptured  detail.  The  very 
walls  are  wrought  into  universal  ornament,  encrusted  with 
tracery,  and  scooped  into  niches,  crowded  with  the  statues  of 
saints  and  martyrs.  Stone  seems,  by  the  cunning  labor  of  the 
chisel,  to  have  been  robbed  of  its  weight  and  density,  suspended 
aloft,  as  if  by  magic,  and  the  fretted  roof  achieved  with  the 
wonderful  minuteness  and  airy  security  of  a  cobweb. 

Along  the  sides  of  the  chapel  are  the  lofty  stalls  of  the 
Knights  of  the  Bath,  richly  carved  of  oak,  though  'with  the  gro- 
tesque decorations  of  Gothic  architecture.  On  the  pinnacles  of 
the  stalls  are  affixed  the  helmets  and  crests  of  the  knights,  with 
their  scarfs  and  swords  ;  and  above  them  are  suspended  their 
banners,  emblazoned  with  armorial  bearings,  and  contrasting 
the  splendor  of  gold  and  purple  and  crimson,  with  the  cold  gray 
fretwork  of  the  roof.  In  the  midst  of  this  grand  mausoleum 
stands  the  sepulchre  of  its  founder,  —  his  effigy,  with  that 
of  his  queen,  extended  on  a  sumptuous  tomb,  and  the  whole 
surrounded  by  a  superbly  wrought  brazen  railing. 

There  is  a  sad  dreariness  in  this  magnificence ;  this  strange 
mixture  of  tombs  and  trophies ;  these  emblems  of  living  and 
aspiring  ambition,  close  beside  mementos  which  show  the  dust 
and  oblivion  in  which  all  must  sooner  or  later  terminate. 
Nothing  impresses  the  mind  with  a  deeper  feeling  of  loneliness, 
than  to  tread  the  silent  and  deserted  scene  of  former  throng 
and  pageant.  On  looking  round  on  the  vacant  stalls  of  the 
knights  and  their  esquires,  and  on  the  rows  of  dusty  but  gor- 
geous banners  that  were  once  borne  before  them,  my  imagina- 
tion conjured  up  the  scene  when  this  hall  was  bright  with  the 
valor  and  beauty  of  the  land ;  glittering  with  the  splendor  of 
jewelled  rank  and  military  array ;  alive  with  the  tread  of  many 
feet,  and  the  hum  of  an  admiring  multitude.  All  had  passed 
away  ;  the  silence  of  death  had  settled  again  upon  the  place, 
interrupted  only  by  the  casual  chirping  of  birds,  which  had 
found  their  way  into  the  chapel,  and  built  their  nests  among 
its  friezes  and  pendants  —  sure  signs  of  solitariness  and  deser- 
tion. When  I  read  the  names  inscribed  on  the  banners,  they 
were  those  of  men  scattered  far  and  wide  about  the  world  ;  some 
tossing  upon  distant  seas  ;  some  under  arms  in  distant  lands  ; 
some  mingling  in  the  busy  intrigues  of  courts  and  cabinets :  all 
seeking  to  deserve  one  more  distinction  in  this  mansion  of 
shadowy  honors  —  the  melancholy  reward  of  a  monument. 

Two  small  aisles  on  each  side  of  this  chapel  present  a  touch- 
ing instance  of  the  equality  of  the  grave,  which  brings  down 


136  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

the  oppressor  to  a  level  with  the  oppressed,  and  mingles  the 
dust  of  the  bitterest  enemies  together.  In  one  is  the  sepulchre 
of  the  haughty  Elizabeth ;  in  the  other  is  that  of  her  victim, 
the  lovely  and  unfortunate  Mary.  Not  an  hour  in  the  day,  but 
some  ejaculation  of  pity  is  uttered  over  the  fate  of  the  latter, 
mingled  with  indignation  at  her  oppressor.  The  walls  of  Eliza- 
beth's sepulchre  continually  echo  with  the  sighs  of  sympathy 
heaved  at  the  grave  of  her  rival. 

A  peculiar  melancholy  reigns  over  the  aisle  where  Mary  lies 
buried.  The  light  struggles  dimly  through  windows  darkened 
by  dust.  The  greater  part  of  the  place  is  in  deep  shadow,  and 
the  walls  are  stained  and  tinted  by  time  and  weather.  A 
marble  figure  of  Mary  is  stretched  upon  the  tomb,  round  which 
is  an  iron  railing,  much  corroded,  bearing  her  national  emblem 
—  the  thistle.  I  was  weary  with  wandering,  and  sat  down 
to  rest  myself  by  the  monument,  revolving  in  my  mind  the 
chequered  and  disastrous  story  of  poor  Mary. 

The  sound  of  casual  footsteps  had  ceased  from  the  abbey.  I 
could  only  hear,  now  and  then,  the  distant  voice  of  the  priest 
repeating  the  evening  service, -and  the  faint  responses  of  the 
choir  ;  these  paused  for  a  time,  and  all  was  hushed.  The  still- 
ness, the  desertion  and  obscurity  that  were  gradually  prevail- 
ing around,  gave  a  deeper  and  more  solemn  interest  to  the 
place  : 

For  in  the  silent  grave  no  conversation, 
No  joyful  tread  of  friends,  no  voice  of  lovers, 
No  careful  father's  counsel  —  nothing's  heard, 
For  nothing  is,  but  all  oblivion, 
Dust,  and  an  endless  darkness. 

Suddenly  the  notes  of  the  deep-laboring  organ  burst  upon  the 
ear,  falling  with  doubled  and  redoubled  intensity,  and  rolling 
as  it  were,  huge  billows  of  sound.  How  well  do  their  volume 
and  grandeur  accord  with  this  mighty  building !  With  what 
pomp  do  they  swell  through  its  vast  vaults,  and  breathe  their 
awful  harmony  through  these  caves  of  death,  and  make  the 
silent  sepulchre  vocal !  —  And  now  they  rise  in  triumph  and  ac- 
clamation, heaving  higher  and  higher  their  accordant  notes, 
and  piling  sound  on  sound.  — And  now  they  pause,  and  the  soft 
voices  of  the  choir  break  out  into  sweet  gushes  of  melody  ;  they 
soar  aloft,  and  warble  along  the  roof,  and  seem  to  play  about 
•these  lofty  vaults  like  the  pure  airs  of  heaven.  Again  the  peal- 
ing organ  heaves  its  thrilling  thunders,  compressing  air  into 
music,  and  rolling  it  forth  upon  the  soul.  What  long-drawn 
cadences  !  What  solemn  sweeping  concords  !  It  grows  more 


WESTMINSTER  ABBEY.  137 

and  more  dense  and  powerful  —  it  fills  the  vast  pile,  and  seems 
to  jar  the  very  walls  —  the  ear  is  stunned  —  the  senses  are  over- 
whelmed. And  now  it  is  winding  up  in  full  jubilee  —  it  is  rising 
from  the  earth  to  heaven  —  the  very  soul  seems  rapt  away,  and 
floated  upwards  on  this  swelling  tide  of  harmony  ! 

I  sat  for  some  time  lost  in  that  kind  of  reverie  which  a  strain 
of  music  is  apt  sometimes  to  inspire :  the  shadows  of  evening; 
were  gradually  thickening  round  me;  the  monuments  began 
to  cast  deeper  and  deeper  gloom  ;  and  the  distant  clock  again 
gave  token  of  the  slowly  waning  day. 

I  rose,  and  prepared  to  leave  the  abbey.  As  I  descended 
the  flight  of  steps  which  lead  into  the  body  of  the  buikling,  my 
eye  was  caught  by  the  shrine  of  Edward  the  Confessor,  and  I 
ascended  the  small  staircase  that  conducts  to  it,  to  take  from 
thence  a  general  survey  of  this  wilderness  of  tombs.  The 
shrine  is  elevated  upon  a  kind  of  platform,  and  close  around  it 
are  the  sepulchres  of  various  kings  and  queens.  From  this 
eminence  the  eye  looks  down  between  pillars  and  funeral  tro- 
phies to  the  chapels  and  chambers  below,  crowded  with  tombs  ; 
where  warriors,  prelates,  courtiers,  and  statesmen  lie  moulder- 
ing in  their  "  beds  of  darkness."  Close  by  me  stood  the  great 
chair  of  coronation,  rudely  carved  of  oak,  in  the  barbarous 
taste  of  a  remote  and  Gothic  age.  The  scene  seemed  almost 
as  if  contrived,  with  theatrical  artifice,  to  produce  an  effect 
upon  the  beholder.  Here  was  a  type  of  the  beginning  and  the 
end  of  human  pomp  and  power ;  here  it  was  literally  but  a  step 
from  the  throne  to  the  sepulchre.  Would  not  one  think  that 
these  incongruous  mementos  had  been  gathered  together  as  a 
lesson  to  living  greatness?  —  to  show  it,  even  in  the  moment  of 
its  proudest  exaltation,  the  neglect  and  dishonor  to  which  it 
must  soon  arrive?  how  soon  that  crown  which  encircles  its 
brow  must  pass  away  ;  and  it  must  lie  down  in  the  dust  and 
disgraces  of  the  tomb,  and  be  trampled  upon  by  the  feet  of  the 
meanest  of  the  multitude?  For,  strange  to  tell,  even  the  grave 
is  here  no  longer  a  sanctuary.  There  is  a  shocking  levity  in 
some  natures,  which  leads  them  to  sport  with  awful  and  hal- 
lowed things ;  and  there  are  base  minds,  which  delight  to  re- 
venge on  the  illustrious  dead  the  abject  homage  and  grovelling 
servility  which  they  pay  to  the  living.  The  coffin  of  P^dward 
the  Confessor  has  J3een  broken  open,  and  his  remains  despoiled 
of  their  funeral  ornaments ;  the  sceptre  has  been  stolen  from 
the  hand  of  the  imperious  Elizabeth,  and  the  effigy  of  Henry 
the  Fifth  lies  headless.  Not  a  royal  monument  but  bears  some 
proof  how  false  and  fugitive  is  the  homage  of  mankind.  Some 


138  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

are  plundered ;  some  mutilated  ;  some  covered  with  ribaldry 
and  insult  —  all  more  or  less  outraged  and  dishonored  ! 

The  last  beams  of  day  were  now  faintly  streaming  through 
the  painted  windows  in  the  high  vaults  above  me ;  the  lower 
parts  of  the  abbey  were  already  wrapped  in  the  obscurity  of 
twilight.  The  chapels  and  aisles  grew  darker  and  darker.  The 
effigies  of  the  kings  faded  into  shadows  ;  the  marble  figures  of 
the  monuments  assumed  strange  shapes  in  the  uncertain  light ; 
the  evening  breeze  crept  through  the  aisles  like  the  cold  breath 
of  the  grave  ;  and  even  the  distant  footfall  of  a  verger,  travers- 
ing the  Poet's  Corner,  had  something  strange  and  dreary  in 
its  sound.  I  slowly  retraced  my  morning's  walk,  and  as  I 
passed  out  at  the  portal  of  the  cloisters,  the  door,  closing 
with  a  jarring  noise  behind  me,  filled  the  whole  building  with 
echoes. 

I  endeavored  to  form  some  arrangement  in  my  mind  of  the 
objects  I  had  been  contemplating,  but  found  they  were  already 
falling  into  indistinctness  and  confusion.  Names,  inscriptions, 
trophies,  had  all  become  confounded  in  my  recollection,  though 
I  had  scarcely  taken  my  foot  from  off  the  threshold.  What, 
thought  I,  is  this  vast  assemblage  of  sepulchres  but  a  treasury 
of  humiliation  ;  a  huge  pile  of  reiterated  homilies  on  the  empti- 
ness of  renown,  and  the  certainty  of  oblivion?  It  is,  indeed, 
the  empire  of  Death ;  his  great  shadowy  palace  ;  where  he  sits 
in  state,  mocking  at  the  relics  of  human  glory,  and  spreading 
dust  and  forgetfuluess  on  the  monuments  of  princes.  How  idle 
a  boast,  after  all,  is  the  immortality  of  a  name  !  Time  is  ever 
silently  turning  over  his  pages  ;  we  are  too  much  engrossed  b}' 
the  story  of  the  present,  to  think  of  the  characters  and  anec- 
dotes that  gave  interest  to  the  past ;  and  each  age  is  a  volume 
thrown  aside  to  be  speedily  forgotten.  The  idol  of  to-day 
pushes  the  hero  of  yesterday  out  of  our  recollection  ;  and  will, 
in  turn,  be  supplanted  by  his  successor  of  to-morrow.  "Our 
fathers,"  says  Sir  Thomas  Brown,  k'  find  their  graves  in  our 
short  memories,  and  sadly  tell  us  how  we  may  be  buried  in  our 
survivors."  History  fades  into  fable;  fact  becomes  clouded 
with  doubt  and  controversy ;  the  inscription  moulders  from  the 
tablet ;  the  statue  falls  from  the  pedestal.  Columns,  arches, 
pyramids,  what  are  they  but  heaps  of  sand  —  and  their  epitaphs, 
but  characters  written  in  the  dust?  What  is  the  security  of 
the  tomb,  or  the  perpetuity  of  an  embalmment?  The  remains 
of  Alexander  the  Great  have  been  scattered  to  the  wind,  and 
his  empty  sarcophagus  is  now  the  mere  curiosity  of  a  museum., 
t;  The  Egyptian  mummies  which  Cambyses  or  time  hath  spared, 


CHRISTMAS.  139 

avarice  now  consumeth ;  Mizraim  cures  wounds,  and  Pharaoh 
is  sold  for  balsams."  1 

What  then  is  to  insure  this  pile,  which  now  towers  above 
me,  from  sharing  the  fate  of  mightier  mausoleums?  The  time 
must  come  when  its  gilded  vaults,  which  now  spring  so  loftily, 
shall  lie  in  rubbish  beneath  the  feet ;  when,  instead  of  the  sound 
of  melody  and  praise,  the  wind  shall  whistle  through  the 
broken  arches,  and  the  owl  hoot  from  the  shattered  tower  — 
when  the  garish  sunbeam  shall  break  into  these  gloomy  man- 
sions of  death  ;  and  the  ivy  twine  round  the  fallen  column  ;  and 
the  fox-glove  hang  its  blossoms  about  the  nameless  urn,  as  if  in 
mockery  of  the  dead.  Thus  man  passes  away ;  his  name  per- 
ishes from  record  and  recollection  ;  his  history  is  as  a  tale  that 
is  told,  and  his  very  monument  becomes  a  ruin.2 


CHRISTMAS. 

But  is  old,  old,  good  old  Christmas  gone?  Nothing  but  the  hair  of  his  good,  gray 
old  head  and  beard  left?  Well,  I  will  have  that,  seeing  I  cannot  have  more  of  him. 

HUE  AND  CRY  AFTER  CHRISTMAS. 

A  man  might  then  behold 

At  Christmas,  in  each  hull, 
Good  fires  to  curb  tho  cold, 

Aud  meat  for  great  and  small. 
The  neighbors  were  friendly  bidden, 

And  all  had  welcome  true, 
The  poor  from  the  gates  were  not  chidden, 

When  this  old  cap  was  new.  —  OLD  SONG. 

Nothing  in  England  exercises  a  more  delightful  spell  over 
my  imagination  than  the  lingerings  of  the  holiday  customs 
and  rural  games  of  former  times.  They  recall  the  pictures 
my  fancy  used  to  draw  in  the  May  morning  of  life,  when 
as  yet  I  only  knew  the  world  through  books,  and  believed  it  to 
be  all  that  poets  had  painted  it ;  and  they  bring  with  them  the 
flavor  of  those  honest  days  of  yore,  in  which,  perhaps  with 
equal  fallacy,  I  am  apt  to  think  the  world  was  more  home- 
bred, social,  and  jo}rous  than  at  present.  I  regret  to  say  that 
they  are  daily  growing  more  and  more  faint,  being  gradually 
worn  away  by  time,  but  still  more  obliterated  by  modem 
fashion.  They  resemble  those  picturesque  morsels  of  Gothic 

!  Sir  Thoma<  Brown. 
-  Appendix,  I\(;le  -4, 


140  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

architecture,  which  we  see  crumbling  in  various  parts  of  the 
country,  partly  dilapidated  by  the  waste  of  ages,  and  partly 
lost  in  the  additions  and  alterations  of  later  days.  Poetry, 
however,  clings  with  cherishing  fondness  about  the  rural  game 
and  holiday  revel,  from  which  it  has  derived  so  many  of  its 
themes  —  as  the  ivy  winds  its  rich  foliage  about  the  Gothic  arch 
and  mouldering  tower,  gratefully  repaying  their  support,  by 
clasping  together  their  tottering  remains,  and,  as  it  were,  em- 
balming them  in  verdure. 

Of  all  the  old  festivals,  however,  that  of  Christmas  awakens 
the  strongest  and  most  heartfelt  associations.  There  is  a  tone 
of  solemn  and  sacred  feeling  that  blends  with  out  conviviality, 
and  lifts  the  spirit  to  a  state  of  hallowed  and  elevated  enjoy- 
ment. The  services  of  the  church  about  this  season  are  ex- 
tremely tender  and  inspiring :  they  dwell  on  the  beautiful  storey 
of  the  origin  of  our  faith,  and  the  pastoral  scenes  that  accom- 
panied its  announcement :  they  gradually  increase  in  fervor  and 
pathos  during  the  season  of  Advent,  until  the}T  break  forth  in 
full  jubilee  on  the  morning  that  brought  peace  and  good-will 
to  men.  I  do  not  know  a  grander  effect  of  music  on  the  moral 
feelings  than  to  hear  the  full  choir  and  the  pealing  organ  per- 
forming a  Christmas  anthem  in  a  cathedral,  and  filling  every 
part  of  the  vast  pile  with  triumphant  harmony. 

It  is  a  beautiful  arrangement,  also,  derived  from  days  of 
yore,  that  this  festival,  which  commemorates  the  announcement 
of  the  religion  of  peace  and  love,  has  been  made  the  season 
for  gathering  together  of  family  connections,  and  drawing  closer 
again  those  bands  of  kindred  hearts,  which  the  cares  and  pleas- 
ures and  sorrows  of  the  world  are  continually  operating  to 
cast  loose  ;  of  calling  back  the  children  of  a  family,  who  have 
launched  forth  in  life,  and  wandered  widely  asunder,  once  more 
to  assemble  about  the  paternal  hearth,  that  rallying-place  of 
the  affections,  there  to  grow  young  and  loving  again  among  the 
endearing  mementos  of  childhood. 

There  is  something  in  the  very  season  of  the  year,  that  gives 
a  charm  to  the  festivity  of  Christmas.  At  other  times,  we  de- 
rive a  great  portion  of  our  pleasures  from  the  mere  beauties  of 
Nature.  Our  feelings  sally  forth  and  dissipate  themselves  over 
the  sunny  landscape,  and  we  "  live  abroad  and  everywhere." 
The  song  of  the  bird,  the  murmur  of  the  stream,  the  breathing 
fragrance  of  spring,  the  soft  voluptuousness  of  summer,  the 
golden  pomp  of  autumn  ;  earth  with  its  mantle  of  refreshing 
green,  and  heaven  with  its  deep  delicious  blue  and  its  cloudy 
magnificence,  —  all  fill  us  with  mute  but  exquisite  delight,  and 


CHRISTMAS.  141 

we  revel  in  the  luxury  of  mere  sensation.  But  in  the  depth  of 
winter,  when  Nature  lies  despoiled  of  every  charm,  and  wrapped 
in  her  shroud  of  sheeted  snow,  we  turn  for  our  gratifications  to 
moral  sources.  The  dreariness  and  desolation  of  the  landscape, 
the  short  gloomy  days  and  darksome  nights,  while  they  circum- 
scribe our  wanderings,  shut  in  our  feelings  also  from  rambling 
abroad,  and  make  us  more  keenly  disposed  for  the  pleasures 
of  the  social  circle.  Our  thoughts  are  more  concentrated ;  our 
friendly  sympathies  more  aroused.  We  feel  more  sensibly  the 
charm  of  each  other's  society,  and  are  brought  more  closely 
together  by  dependence  on  each  other  for  enjoyment.  Heart 
calleth  unto  heart,  and  we  draw  our  pleasures  from  the  deep 
wells  of  loving-kindness  which  lie  in  the  quiet  recesses  of  our 
bosoms ;  and  which,  when  resorted  to,  furnish  forth  the  pure 
element  of  domestic  felicity. 

The  pitchy  gloom  without  makes  the  heart  dilate  on  entering 
the  room  filled  with  the  glow  and  warmth  of  the  evening  fire. 
The  ruddy  blaze  diffuses  an  artificial  summer  and  sunshine 
through  the  room,  and  lights  up  each  countenance  into  a  kind- 
lier welcome.  Where  does  the  honest  face  of  hospitality  ex- 
pand into  a  broader  and  more  cordial  smile  —  where  is  the  shy 
glance  of  love  more  sweetly  eloquent  —  than  by  the  winter  fire- 
side ?  and  as  the  hollow  blast  of  wintry  wind  rushes  through 
the  hall,  claps  the  distant  door,  whistles  about  the  casement, 
and  rumbles  down  the  chimney,  what  can  be  more  grateful 
than  that  feeling  of  sober  and  sheltered  security,  with  which 
we  look  round  upon  the  comfortable  chamber,  and  the  scene  of 
domestic  hilarity? 

The  English,  from  the  great  prevalence  of  rural  habits 
throughout  every  class  of  society,  have  always  been  fond  of 
those  festivals  and  holidays  which  agreeably  interrupt  the 
stillness  of  country  life  ;  and  they  were  in  former  days  particu- 
larly observant  of  the  religious  and  social  rights  of  Christmas. 
It  is  inspiring  to  read  even  the  dry  details  which  some  anti- 
quaries have  given  of  the  quaint  humors,  the  burlesque  pageants, 
the  complete  abandonment  to  mirth  and  good-fellowship,  with 
which  this  festival  was  celebrated.  It  seemed  to  throw  open 
every  door,  and  unlock  every  heart.  It  brought  the  peasant 
and  the  peer  together,  and  blended  all  ranks  in  one  warm  gen- 
erous flow  of  joy  and  kindness.  The  old  halls  of  castles  and 
manor-houses  resounded  with  the  harp  and  the  Christmas  carol, 
and  their  ample  boards  groaned  under  the  weight  of  hospitality. 
Even  the  poorest  cottage  welcomed  the  festive  season  with 
green  decorations  of  bay  and  holly  —  the  cheerful  fire  glanced 


142  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

its  rays  through  the  lattice,  inviting  the  passengers  to  raise  the 
latch,  and  join  the  gossip  knot  huddled  round  the  hearth,  be- 
guiling the  long  evening  with  legendary  jokes,  and  oft-told 
Christmas  tales. 

One  of  the  least  pleasing  effects  of  modern  refinement  is  the 
havoc  it  has  made  among  the  hearty  old  holiday  customs.  It 
has  completely  taken  off  the  sharp  touchings  and  spirited  reliefs 
of  these  embellishments  of  life,  and  has  worn  down  society  into 
a  more  smooth  and  polished,  but  certainly  a  less  characteristic 
surface.  Many  of  the  games  and  ceremonials  of  Christmas 
have  entirely  disappeared,  and,  like  the  sherris  sack  of  old  Fal- 
staff,  are  become  matters  of  speculation  and  dispute  among 
commentators.  They  flourished  in  times  full  of  spirit  and  lusti- 
hood,  when  men  enjoyed  life  roughly,  but  heartily  and  vigor- 
ously :  times  wild  and  picturesque,  which  have  furnished  poetry 
witli  its  richest  materials,  and  the  drama  with  its  most  attrac- 
tive variety  of  characters  and  manners.  The  world  has  become 
more  worldly.  There  is  more  of  dissipation  and  less  of  enjoy- 
ment. Pleasure  has  expanded  into  a  broader,  but  a  shallower 
stream,  and  has  forsaken  many  of  those  deep  and  quiet  chan- 
nels, where  it  flowed  sweetly  through  the  calm  bosom  of  domes- 
tic life.  Society  has  acquired  a  more  enlightened  and  elegant 
tone ;  but  it  has  lost  many  of  its  strong  local  peculiarities,  its 
homebred  feelings,  its  honest  fireside  delights.  The  tradition- 
ary customs  of  golden-hearted  antiquity,  its  feudal  hospitalities, 
and  lordly  wassailings,  have  passed  away  with  the  baronial 
castles  and  stately  manor-houses  in  which  they  were  celebrated. 
They  comported  with  the  shadowy  hall,  the  great  oaken  galleiy, 
and  the  tapestried  parlor,  but  are  unfitted  to  the  light  showy 
saloons  and  gay  drawing-rooms  of  the  modern  villa. 

Shorn,  however,  as  it  is,  of  its  ancient  and  festive  honors, 
Christmas  is  still  a  period  of  delightful  excitement  in  England. 
It  is  gratifying  to  see  that  home  feeling  completely  aroused 
which  holds  so  powerful  a  place  in  every  English  bosom.  The 
preparations  making  on  every  side  for  the  social  board  that  is 
again  to  unite  friends  and  kindred  —  the  presents  of  good  cheer 
passing  and  repassing,  those  tokens  of  regard  and  quickeners 
of  kind  feelings  —  the  evergreens  distributed  about  houses  and 
churches,  emblems  of  peace  and  gladness  —  all  these  have  the 
most  pleasing  effect  in  producing  fond  associations,  and  kin- 
dling benevolent  sympathies.  Even  the  sound  of  the  waits,  rude 
as  may  be  their  minstrelsy,  breaks  upon  the  midwatches  of  a 
winter  night  with  the  effect  of  perfect  harmony.  As  I  have 
been  awakened  by  them  in  that  still  and  solemn  hour  "  when 


CHRISTMAS.  143 

deep  sleep  falleth  upon  man,"  I  have  listened  with  a  hushed 
delight,  and  connecting  them  with  the  sacred  and  joyous  occa- 
sion, have  almost  fancied  them  into  another  celestial  choir, 
announcing  peace  and  good-will  to  mankind.  How  delightfully 
the  imagination,  when  wrought  upon  by  these  moral  influences, 
turns  every  thing  to  melody  and  beauty  !  The  very  crowing  of 
the  cock,  heard  sometimes  in  the  profound  repose  of  the  coun- 
try, "telling  the  nightwatches.to  his  feathery  dames,"  was 
thought  by  the  common  people  to  announce  the  approach  of  this 
sacred  festival : 

"  Some  say  that  ever  'gainst  that  season  comes 
Wherein  our  Saviour's  birth  is  celebrated, 
This  bird  of  dawning  singeth  all  night  long  : 
And  then,  they  say,  no  spirit  dares  stir  abroad; 
The  nights  are  wholesome  —  then  no  planets  strike, 
No  fairy  takes,  no  witch  hath  power  to  charm, 
So  hallowed  and  so  gracious  is  the  time." 

Amidst  the  general  call  to  happiness,  the  bustle  of  the  spirits, 
and  stir  of  the  affections,  which  prevail  at  this  period,  what 
bosom  can  remain  insensible?  It  is,  indeed,  the  season  of 
regenerated  feeling  —  the  season  for  kindling  not  merely  the 
fire  of  hospitality  in  the  hall,  but  the  genial  flame  of  charity  in 
the  heart.  The  scene  of  early  love  again  rises  green  to  mem- 
ory beyond  the  sterile  waste  of  years,  and  the  idea  of  home, 
fraught  with  the  fragrance  of  home-dwelling  joys,  reanimates 
the  drooping  spirit  —  as  the  Arabian  breeze  will  sometimes 
waft  the  freshness  of  the  distant  fields  to  the  weary  pilgrim  of 
the  desert. 

Stranger  and  sojourner  as  I  am  in  the  land  —  though  for  me 
no  social  hearth  may  blaze,  no  hospitable  roof  throw  open  its 
doors,  nor  the  warm  grasp  of  friendship  welcome  me  at  the 
threshold  —  yet  I  feel  the  influence  of  the  season  beaming  into 
my  soul  from  the  happy  looks  of  those  around  me.  Surely 
happiness  is  reflective,  like  the  light  of  heaven  ;  and  every 
countenance  bright  with  smiles,  and  glowing  with  innocent 
enjoyment,  is  a  mirror  transmitting  to  others  the  rays  of  a 
supreme  and  ever-shining  benevolence.  He  who  can  turn 
churlishly  away  from  contemplating  the  felicity  of  his  fellow- 
beings,  and  can  sit  down  darkling  and  repining  in  his  lone- 
liness when  all  around  is  joyful,  may  have  his  moments  of 
strong  excitement  and  selfish  gratification,  but  he  wants  the 
genial  and  social  sympathies  which  constitute  the  charm  of  a 
merry  Christmas. 


144  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 


THE   STAGE-COACH. 

Omne  benfe 

Sine  poena 
Tempus  est  ludendi 

Venit  hora 

Absque  mora 
Librob  deponendi. 

OLD  HOLIDAY  SCHOOL  SONG. 

IN  the  preceding  paper,  I  have  made  some  general  observa- 
tions on  the  Christmas  festivities  of  England,  and  am  tempted 
to  illustrate  them  by  some  anecdotes  of  a  Christmas  passed 
in  the  country  ;  in  perusing  which,  I  would  most  courteously 
invite  my  reader  to  lay  aside  the  austerity  of  wisdom,  and  to 
put  on  that  genuine  holiday  spirit,  which  is  tolerant  of  folly 
and  anxious  only  for  amusement. 

In  the  course  of  a  December  tour  in  Yorkshire,  I  rode  for  a 
long  distance  in  one  of  the  public  coaches,  on  the  day  preced- 
ing Christmas.  The  coach  was  crowded,  both  inside  and  out, 
with  passengers,  who,  by  their  talk,  seemed  principally  bound 
to  the  mansions  of  relations  or  friends,  to  eat  the  Christmas 
dinner.  It  was  loaded  also  with  hampers  of  game,  and  baskets 
and  boxes  of  delicacies  ;  and  hares  hung  dangling  their  long 
ears  about  the  coachman's  box,  presents  from  distant  friends 
for  the  impending  feast.  I  had  three  fine  rosy-cheeked  boys 
for  my  fellow-passengers  inside,  full  of  the  buxom  health  and 
manly  spirit  which  I  have  observed  in  the  children  of  this 
country.  They  were  returning  home  for  the  holidays,  in 
high  glee,  and  promising  *  themselves  a  world  of  enjoyment. 
It  was  delightful  to  hear  the  gigantic  plans  of  the  little 
rogues,  and  the  impracticable  feats  they  were  to  perform  dur- 
ing their  six  weeks'  emancipation  from  the  abhorred  thraldom 
of  book,  birch,  and  pedagogue.  They  were  full  of  antici- 
pations of  the  meeting  with  the  family  and  household,  down  to 
the  very  cat  and  dog ;  and  of  the  joy  they  were  to  give  their 
little  sisters,  by  the  presents  with  which  their  pockets  were 
crammed ;  but  the  meeting  to  which  they  seemed  to  look  for- 
ward with  the  greatest  impatience  was  with  Bantam,  which  I 
found  to  be  a  pony,  and,  according  to  their  talk,  possessed  of 
more  virtues  than  any  steed  since  the  days  of  Bucephalus. 
How  he  could  trot !  how  he  could  run  !  and  then  such  leaps  as 


THE   STAGE-COACH.-  145 

he  would  take  —  there  was  not  a.  hedge  in  the  whole  country 
that  he  could  not  clear. 

They  were  under  the  particular  guardianship  of  the  coach- 
man, to  whom,  whenever  an  opportunity  presented,  they  ad- 
dressed a  host  of  questions,  and  pronounced  him  one  of  the 
best  fellows  in  the  world.  Indeed,  I  could  not  but  notice 
the  more  than  ordinary  air  of  bustle  and  importance  of  the 
Coachman,  who  wore  his  hat  a  little  on  one  side,  and  had  a  large 
bunch  of  Christmas  greens  stuck  in  the  button-hole  of  his  coat. 
He  is  always  a  personage  full  of  mighty  care  and  business  ; 
but  he  is  particularly  so  during  this  season,  having  so  many 
commissions  to  execute  in  consequence  of  the  great  interchange 
of  presents.  And  here,  perhaps,  it  may  not  be  unacceptable 
to  my  untravelled  readers,  to  have  a  sketch  that  may  serve  as  a 
general  representation  of  this  very  numerous  and  important  class 
of  functionaries,  who  have  a  dress,  a  manner,  a  language,  an 
air,  peculiar  to  themselves,  and  prevalent  throughout  the  fra- 
ternity ;  so  that,  wherever  an  English  stage-coachman  may  be 
seen,  he  cannot  be  mistaken  for  one  of  any  other  craft  or  mystery. 

He  has  commonly  a  broad  full  face,  curiously  mottled  with 
red,  as  if  the  blood  had  been  forced  by  hard  feeding  into  every 
vessel  of  the  skin  ;  he  is  swelled  into  jolly  dimensions  by  fre- 
quent potations  of  malt  liquors,  and  his  bulk  is  still  further 
increased  by  a  multiplicity  of  coats,  in  which  he  is  buried  like 
a  cauliflower,  the  upper  one  reaching  to  his  heels.  He  wears  a 
broad-brimmed  low-crowned  hat,  a  huge  roll  of  colored  hand- 
kerchief about  his  neck,  knowingly  knotted  and  tucked  in  at 
the  bosom  ;  and  has  in  summer-time  a  large  bouquet  of  flowers  in 
his  button-hole,  the  present,  most  probably,  of  some  enamoured 
country  lass.  His  waistcoat  is  commonly  of  some  bright  color, 
striped,  and  his  small-clothes  extend  far  below  the  knees,  to  meet 
a  pair  of  jockey  boots  which  reach  about  half-way  up  his  legs. 

All  this  costume  is  maintained  with  much  precision ;  he  has 
a  pride  in  having  his  clothes  of  excellent  materials,  and,  not- 
withstanding the  seeming  grossness  of  his  appearance,  there  is 
still  discernible  that  neatness  and  propriety  of  person,  which 
is  almost  inherent  in  an  Englishman.  He  enjoys  great  conse- 
quence and  consideration  along  the  road ;  has  frequent  con- 
ferences with  the  village  housewives,  who  look  upon  him  as  a 
man  of  great  trust  and  dependence  ;  and  he  seems  to  have  a 
good  understanding  with  every  bright-eyed  country  lass.  The 
moment  he  arrives  where  the  horses  are  to  be  changed,  he 
throws  down  the  reins  with  something  of  an  air,  and  abandons 
the  cattle  to  the  care  of  the  hostler,  his  duty  being  merely  to 


146  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

drive  from  one  stage  to  another.  When  off  the  box,  his  hands 
are  thrust  into  the  pockets  of  his  great-coat,  and  he  rolls  about 
the  inn-yard  with  an  air  of  the  most  absolute  lordliness. 
Here  he  is  generally  .surrounded  by  an  admiring  throng  of  hos- 
tlers, stable-boys,  shoeblacks,  and  those  nameless  hangers-on, 
that  infest  inns  and  taverns,  and  run  errands,  and  do  all  kind 
of  odd  jobs,  for  the  privilege  of  battening  on  the  drippings  of 
,the  kitchen  and  the  leakage  of  the  tap-room.  These  all  look 
up  to  him  as  to  an  oracle  ;  treasure  up  his  cant  phrases  ;  echo 
his  opinions  about  horses  and  other  topics  of  jockey  lore  ;  and, 
above  all,  endeavor  to  imitate  his  air  and  carriage.  Every  rag- 
amuffin that  has  a  coat  to  his  back,  thrusts  his  hands  in  the 
pockets,  rolls  in  his  gait,  talks  slang,  and  is  an  embryo  Coachey. 

Perhaps  it  might  be  owing  to  the  pleasing  serenity  that 
reigned  in  my  own  mind,  that  I  fancied  I  saw  cheerfulness  in 
every  countenance  throughout  the  journey.  A  Stage-Coach, 
however,  carries  animation  always  with  it,  and  puts  the  world 
in  motion  as  it  whirls  along.  The  horn,  sounded  at  the  en- 
trance of  a  village,  produces  a  general  bustle.  Some  hasten 
forth  to  meet  friends ;  some  with  bundles  and  band-boxes  to 
secure  places,  and  in  the  hurry  of  the  moment  can  hardly  take 
leave  of  the  group  that  accompanies  them.  In  the  mean  time, 
the  coachman  has  a  world  of  small  commissions  to  execute. 
Sometimes  he  delivers  a  hare  or  pheasant ;  sometimes  jerks  a 
small  parcel  or  newspaper  to  the  door  of  a  public  house ;  and 
sometimes,  with  knowing  leer  and  words  of  sly  import,  hands 
to  some  half-blushing,  half-laughing  housemaid,  an  odd-shaped 
billet-doux  from  some  rustic  admirer.  As  the  coach  rattles 
through  the  village,  every  one  runs  to  the  window,  and  you 
have  glances  on  every  side  of  fresh  country  faces,  and  bloom- 
ing giggling  girls.  At  the  corners  are  assembled  juntos  of  vil- 
lage idlers  and  wise  men,  who  take  their  stations  there  for  the 
important  purpose  of  seeing  company  pass :  but  the  sagest 
knot  is  generally  at  the  blacksmith's,  to  whom  the  passing  of 
the  coach  is  an  event  fruitful  of  much  speculation.  The  smith, 
with  the  horse's  heel  in  his  lap,  pauses  as  the  vehicle  whirls 
by  ;  the  cyclops  round  the  anvil  suspend  their  ringing  hammers, 
and  suffer  the  iron  to  grow  cool ;  and  the  sooty  spectre  in  brown 
paper  cap,  laboring  at  the  bellows,  leans  on  the  handle  for  a 
moment,  and  permits  the  asthmatic  engine  to  heave  a  long- 
drawn  sigh,  while  he  glares  through  the  murky  smoke  and  sul- 
phureous gleams  of  the  smithy. 

Perhaps  the  impending  holiday  might  have  given  a  more 
than  usual  animation  to  the  country,  for  it  seemed  to  me  as  if 


THE  STAGE-COACH.  147 

everybody  was  in  good  looks  and  good  spirits.  Game,  poul- 
try, and  other  luxuries  of  the  table,  were  in  brisk  circulation  in 
the  villages  ;  the  grocers',  butchers',  and  fruiterers'  shops  were 
thronged  with  customers.  The  housewives  were  stirring  briskly 
about,  putting  their  dwellings  in  order  ;  and  the  glossy  branches 
of  holl}',  with  their  bright-red  berries,  began  to  appear  at  the 
windows.  The  scene  brought  to  mind  an  old  writer's  account 
of  Christmas  preparations.  "  Now  capons  and  hens,  besides 
turkeys,  geese,  and  ducks,  with  beef  and  mutton  —  must  all 
die  —  for  in  twelve  days  a  multitude  of  people  will  not  be  fed 
with  a  little.  Now  plums  and  spice,  sugar,  and  honey,  square 
it  among  pies  and  broth.  Now  or  never  must  music  be  in  tune, 
for  the  youth  must  dance  and  sing  to  get  them  a  heat,  while 
the  aged  sit  by  the  fire.  The  country  maid  leaves  half  her 
market,  and  must  be  sent  again,  if  she  forgets  a  pack  of  cards 
on  Christmas  eve.  Great  is  the  contention  of  Holly  and  Ivy, 
whether  master  or  dame  wears  the  breeches.  Dice  and  cards 
benefit  the  butler ;  and  if  the  cook  do  not  lack  wit,  he  will 
sweetly  lick  his  fingers." 

I  was  roused  from  this  fit  of  luxurious  meditation,  by  a 
shout  from  my  little  travelling  companions.  They  had  been 
looking  out  of  the  coach- windows  for  the  last  few  miles,  recog- 
nizing every  tree  and  cottage  as  they  approached  home,  and 
now  there  was  a  general  burst  of  joy — "  There's  John  !  and 
there's  old  Carlo  !  and  there's  Bantam  !  "  cried  the  happy  little 
rogues,  clapping  their  hands. 

At  the  end  of  a  lane,  there  was  an  old  sober-looking  servant 
in  livery,  waiting  for  them  ;  he  was  accompanied  by  a  super- 
annuated pointer,  and  by  the  redoubtable  Bantam,  a  little  old 
rat  of  a  pony,  with  a  shaggy  mane  and  long  rusty  tail,  who 
stood  dozing  quietly  by  the  road-side,  little  dreaming  of  the 
bustling  times  that  awaited  him. 

I  was  pleased  to  see  the  fondness  with  which  the  little  fel- 
lows leaped  about  the  steady  old  footman,  and  hugged  the 
pointer,  who  wriggled  his  whole  body  for  joy.  But  Bantam 
was  the  great  object  of  interest ;  all  wanted  to  mount  at  once, 
and  it  was  with  some  difficult}'  that  John  arranged  that  they 
should  ride  by  turns,  and  the  eldest  should  ride  first. 

Off  they  set  at  last ;  one  on  the  pony,  with  the  dog  bounding 
and  barking  before  him,  and  the  others  holding  John's  hands ; 
both  talking  at  once,  and  overpowering  him  with  questions 
about  home,  and  with  school  anecdotes.  I  looked  after  them 
with  a  feeling  in  which  I  do  not  know  whether  pleasure  or 
melancholy  predominated ;  for  I  was  reminded  of  those  days 


148  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

when,  like  them,  I  had  neither  known  care  nor  sorrow,  and  a 
holiday  was  the  summit  of  earthly  felicity.  We  stopped  a  few 
moments  afterwards,  to  water  the  horses  ;  and  on  resuming  our 
route,  a  turn  of  the  road  brought  us  in  sight  of  a  neat  country- 
seat.  I  could  just  distinguish  the  forms  of  a  lady  and  two 
young  girls  in  the  portico,  and  I  saw  my  little  comrades,  with 
Bantam,  Carlo,  and  old  John,  trooping  along  the  carriage  road. 
I  leaned  out  of  the  coach-window,  in  hopes  of  witnessing  the 
happy  meeting,  but  a  grove  of  trees  shut  it  from  my  sight. 

In  the  evening  we  reached  a  village  where  I  had  determined 
to  pass  the  night.  As  we  drove  into  the  great  gateway  of  the 
inn,  I  saw,  on  one  side,  the  light  of  a  rousing  kitchen  fire 
beaming  through  a  window.  I  entered,  and  admired,  for  the 
hundredth  time,  that  picture  of  convenience,  neatness,  and 
broad  honest  enjoyment,  the  kitchen  of  an  English  inn.  It 
was  of  spacious  dimensions,  hung  round  with  copper  and  tin 
vessels  highly  polished,  and  decorated  here  and  there  with  a 
Christmas  green.  Hams,  tongues,  and  flitches  of  bacon  were 
suspended  from  the  ceiling ;  a  smoke-jack  made  its  ceaseless 
clanking  beside  the  fire-place,  and  a  clock  ticked  in  one  corner. 

A  well-scoured  deal  table  extended  along  one  side  of  the  kit- 
chen, with  a  cold  round  of  beef,  and  other  hearty  viands,  upon 
it,  over  which  two  foaming  tankards  of  ale  seemed  mounting 
guard.  Travellers  of  inferior  order  were  preparing  to  attack 
this  stout  repast,  whilst  others  sat  smoking  and  gossiping  over 
their  ale  on  two  high-backed  oaken  settles  beside  the  fire. 
Trim  housemaids  were  hurrying  backwards  and  forwards, 
under  the  directions  of  a  fresh  bustling  landlady;  but  still 
seizing  an  occasional  moment  to  exchange  a  flippant  word,  and 
have  a  rallying  laugh,  with  the  group  round  the  fire.  The 
scene  completely  realized  Poor  Robin's  humble  idea  of  the 
comforts  of  mid-winter : 

Now  trees  their  leafy  hats  do  bare 
To  reverence  Winter's  silver  hair; 
A  handsome  hostess,  merry  host, 
A  pot  of  ale  now  and  a  toast, 
Tobacco  and  a  good  coal  fire, 
Are  things  this  season  doth  require.1 

I  had  not  been  long  at  the  inn,  when  a  post-chaise  drove  up 
to  the  door.  A  young  gentleman  stepped  out,  and  by  the  light 
of  the  lamps  I  caught  a  glimpse  of  a  countenance  which  I 
thought  I  knew.  I  moved  forward  to  get  a  nearer  view,  when 

1  Poor  Robin's  Almanack,  1684. 


CHRISTMAS  EVE.  149 

his  eye  caught  mine.  I  was  not  mistaken  ;  it  was  Frank  Brace- 
bridge,  a  sprightly  good-humored  young  fellow,  with  whom  I 
had  once  travelled  on  the  continent.  Our  meeting  was  ex- 
tremely cordial,  for  the  countenance  of  an  old  fellow-traveller 
always  brings  up  the  recollection  of  a  thousand  pleasant  scenes, 
odd  adventures,  and  excellent  jokes.  To  discuss  all  these  in  a 
transient  interview  at  an  inn,  was  impossible  ;  and  finding  that 
I  was  not  pressed  for  time,  and  was  merely  making  a* tour  of 
observation,  he  insisted  that  I  sho.uld  give  him  a  day  or  two  at 
his  father's  country-seat,  to  which  he  was  going  to  pass  the 
holidays,  and  which  lay  at  a  few  miles'  distance.  "  It  is  better 
than  eating  a  solitary  Christmas  dinner  at  an  inn,"  said  he, 
"and  I  can  assure  you  of  a  hearty  welcome,  in  something  of 
the  old-fashioned  style."  His  reasoning  was  cogent,  and  I 
must  confess  the  preparation  I  had  seen  for  universal  festivity 
and  social  enjoyment,  had  made  me.  feel  a  little  impatient  of 
my  loneliness.  I  closed,  therefore,  at  once,  with  his  invitation  ; 
the  chaise  drove  up  to  the  door,  and  in  a  few  moments  I  was 
on  my  way  to  the  family  mansion  of  the  Bracebridges. 


CHRISTMAS   EVE. 

Saint  Francis  and  Saint  Benedight 
Blesse  this  house  from  wicked  wight; 
From  the  night-mare  and  the  goblin, 
That  is  bight  good  fellow  Robin; 
Keep  it  from  all  evil  spirits, 
Fairies,  weezels,  rats,  and  ferrets : 

From  curfew-time 

To  the  next  prime.  —  CARTWKIGHT. 

IT  was  a  brilliant  moonlight  night,  but  extremely  cold ;  our 
chaise  whirled  rapidly  over  the  frozen  ground  ;  the  post-boy 
smacked  his  whip  incessantly,  and  a  part  of  the  time  his  horses 
were  on  a  gallop.  u  He  knows  where  he  is  going,"  said  my 
companion,  laughing,  "  and  is  eager  to  arrive  in  time  for  some 
of  the  merriment  and  good  cheer  of  the  servants'  hall.  My 
father,  you  must  know,  is  a  bigoted  devotee  of  the  old  school, 
and  prides  himself  upon  keeping  up  something  of  old  English 
hospitality.  He  is  a  tolerable  specimen  of  what  you  will  rarely 
meet  with  now-a-days  in  its  purity, — the  old  English  country 
gentleman  ;  for  our  men  of  fortune  spend  so  much  of  their  time 
in  town,  and  fashion  is  carried  so  much  into  the  country,  that 


150  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

the  strong  rich  peculiarities  of  ancient  rural  life  are  almost 
polished  away.  My  father,  however,  from  early  years,  took 
honest  Peacham  l  for  his  text-book,  instead  of  Chesterfield  ;  he 
determined  in  his  own  mind,  that  there  was  no  condition  more 
truly  honorable  and  enviable  than  that  of  a  country  gentle- 
man on  his  paternal  lands,  and,  therefore,  passes  the  whole 
of  his  time  on  his  estate.  He  is  a  strenuous  advocate  for  the 
revival  o'f  the  old  rural  games  and  holiday  observances,  and  is 
deeply  read  in  the  writers,  ancient  and  modern,  who  have 
treated  on  the  subject.  Indeed,  his  favorite  range  of  reading 
is  among  the  authors  who  flourished  at  least  two  centuries 
since ;  who,  he  insists,  wrote  and  thought  more  like  true  Eng- 
lishmen than  any  of  their  successors.  He  even  regrets  some- 
times that  he  had  not  been  born  a  few  centuries  earlier,  when 
England  was  itself,  and  had  its  peculiar  manners  and  customs. 
As  he  lives  at  some  distance  from  the  main  road,  in  rather  a 
lonely  part  of  the  country,  without  any  rival  gentry  near  him, 
he  has  that  most  enviable  of  all  blessings  to  an  Englishman,  an 
opportunity  of  indulging  the  bent  of  his  own  humor  without 
molestation.  Being  representative  of  the  oldest  family  in  the 
neighborhood,  and  a  great  part  of  the  peasantry  being  his  ten- 
ants, he  is  much  looked  up  to,  and,  in  general,  is  known  simply 
by  the  appellation  of  '  The  'Squire ; '  a  title  which  has  been 
accorded  to  the  head  of  the  family  since  time  immemorial.  I 
think  it  best  to  give  you  these  hints  about  my  worthy  old 
father,  to  prepare  you  for  any  eccentricittes  that  might  other- 
wise appear  absurd." 

We  had  passed  for  some  time  along  the  wall  of  a  park,  and 
at  length  the  chaise  stopped  at  the  gate.  It  was  in  a  heavy 
magnificent  old  style,  of  iron  bars,  fancifully  wrought  at  top 
into  flourishes  and  flowers.  The  huge  square  columns  that 
supported  the  gate  were  surmounted  by  the  family  crest.  Close 
adjoining  was  the  porter's  lodge,  sheltered  under  dark  fir  trees , 
and  almost  buried  in  shrubbery. 

The  post-boy  rang  a  large  porter's  bell,  which  resounded 
through  the  still  frosty  air,  and  was  answered  by  the  distant 
barking  of  dogs,  with  which  the  mansion-house  seemed  garri- 
soned. An  old  woman  immediately  appeared  at  the  gate.  As 
the  moonlight  fell  strongly  upon  her,  I  had  a  full  view  of  a  lit- 
tle primitive  dame,  dressed  very  much  in  the  antique  taste,  with  a 
neat  kerchief  and  stomacher,  and  her  silver  hair  peeping  from 
under  a  cap  of  snowy  whiteness.  She  came  courtesy  ing  fo'rth 


Peacham'B  Complete  Gentleman,  1622. 


CHRISTMAS  EVE.  151 

with  many  expressions  of  simple  joy  at  seeing  her  young  mas- 
ter. Her  husband,  it  see'med,  was  up  at  the  house,  keeping 
Christmas  eve  in  the  servants'  hall ;  they  could  not  do  without 
him,  as  he  was  the  best  hand  at  a  song  and  story  in  the  house- 
hold. 

My  friend  proposed  that  we  should  alight,  and  walk  through 
the  park  to  the  Hall,  which  was  at  no  great  distance,  while  the 
chaise  should  follow  on.  Our  road  wound  through  a  noble 
avenue  of  trees,  among  the  naked  branches  of  which  the  moon 
glittered  as  she  rolled  through  the  deep  vault  of  a  cloudless 
sky.  The  lawn  beyond  was  sheeted  with  a  slight  covering  of 
snow,  which  here  and  there  sparkled  as  the  moonbeams  caught 
a  frosty  crystal ;  and  at  a  distance  might  be  seen  a  thin  trans- 
parent vapor,  stealing  up  from  the  low  grounds,  and  threatening 
gradually  to  shroud  the  landscape. 

My  companion  looked  round  him  with  transport :  —  ' '  How 
often,"  said  he,  "  have  I  scampered  up  this  avenue,  on  return- 
ing home  on  school  vacations  !  How  often  have  I  played  under 
these  trees  when  a  boy !  I  feel  a  degree  of  filial  reverence  for 
them,  as  we  look  up  to  those  who  have  cherished  us  in  child- 
hood. My  father  was  always  scrupulous  in  exacting  our  holi- 
days, and  having  us  around  him  on  family  festivals.  He  used 
to  direct  and  superintend  our  games  with  the  strictness  that 
some  parents  do  the  studies  of  their  children.  He  was  very 
particular  that  we  should  play  the  old  English  games  according 
to  their  original  form ;  and  consulted  old  books  for  precedent 
and  authority  for  every  '  merrie  disport;'  yet,  I  assure  you, 
there  never  was  pedantry  so  delightful.  It  was  the  policy  of 
the  good  old  gentleman  to  make  his  children  feel  that  home  was 
the  happiest  place  in  the  world,  and  I  value  this  delicious  home- 
feeling  as  one  of  the  choicest  gifts  a  parent  could  bestow." 

We  were  interrupted  by  the  clamor  of  a  troop  of  dogs  of  all 
sorts  and  sizes,  "  mongrel,  puppy,  whelp  and  hound,  and  curs 
of  low  degree,"  that,  disturbed  by  the  ring  of  the  porter's  bell 
and  the  rattling  of  the  chaise,  came  bounding  open-mouthed 
across  the  lawn. 

« The  little  dogs  and  all, 

Tray,  Blanche,  and  Sweetheart,  see,  they  bark  at  me!  " 

cried  Bracebridge,  laughing.  At  the  sound  of  his  voice,  the 
bark  was  changed  into  a  }7elp  of  delight,  and  in  a  moment  he 
was  surrounded  and  almost  overpowered  by  the  caresses  of  the 
faithful  animals. 

We  had  now  come  in  full  view  of  the  old  family  mansion, 


152  THE   SKETCH-BOOK. 

partly  thrown  in  deep  shadow,  and  partly  lit  up  by  the  cold 
moonshine.  It  was  an  irregular  building  of  some  magnitude, 
and  seemed  to  be  of  the  architecture  of  different  periods.  One 
wing  was  evidently  very  ancient,  with  heavy  stone-shafted  bow 
windows  jutting  out  and  overrun  with  ivy,  from  among  the 
foliage  of  which  the  small  diamond-shaped  panes  of  glass  glit- 
tered with  the  moon-beams.  The  rest  of  the  house  was  in  the 
French  taste  of  Charles  the  Second's  time,  having  been  repaired 
and  altered,  as  my  friend  told  me,  by  one  of  his  ancestors,  who 
returned  with  that  monarch  at  the  Restoration.  The  grounds 
about  the  house  were  laid  out  in  the  old  formal  manner  of  arti- 
ficial flower-beds,  clipped  shrubberies,  raised  terraces,  and  heavy 
stone  balustrades,  ornamented  with  urns,  a  leaden  statue  or 
two,  and  a  jet  of  water.  The  old  gentleman,  I  was  told,  was 
extremely  careful  to  preserve  this  obsolete  finery  in  all  its  ori- 
ginal state.  He  admired  this  fashion  in  gardening ;  it  had  an 
air  of  magnificence,  was  courtly  and  noble,  and  befitting  good 
old  family  style.  The  boasted  imitation  of  nature  in  modern 
gardening  had  sprung  up  with  modern  republican  notions,  but 
did  not  suit  a  monarchical  government  —  it  smacked  of  the  lev- 
elling system.  I  could  not  help  smiling  at  this  introduction  of 
politics  into  gardening,  though  I  expressed  some  apprehension 
that  I  should  find  the  old  gentleman  rather  intolerant  in  his 
creed.  Frank  assured  me,  however,  that  it  was  almost  the  only 
instance  in  which  he  had  ever  heard  his  father  meddle  with  pol- 
itics ;  and  he  believed  he  had  got  this  notion  from  a  member 
of  Parliament,  who  once  passed  a  few  weeks  with  him.  The 
'Squire  was  glad  of  any  argument  to  defend  his  clipped  yew 
trees  and  formal  terraces,  which  had  been  occasionally  attacked 
by  modern  landscape  gardeners. 

As  we  approached  the  house,  we  heard  the  sound  of  music, 
and  now  and  then  a  burst  of  laughter,  from  one  end  of  the 
building.  This,  Bracebridge  said,  must  proceed  from  the  ser- 
vants' hall,  where  a  great  deal  of  revelry  was  permitted,  and 
even  encouraged,  by  the  'Squire,  throughout  the  twelve  days  of 
Christmas,  provided  every  thing  was  done  conformably  to  an- 
cient usage.  Here  were  kept  up  the  old  games  of  hoodman 
blind,  shoe  the  wild  mare,  hot  cockles,  steal  the  white  loaf,  bob- 
apple,  and  snap-dragon  ;  the  Yule  clog,  and  Christmas  candle, 
were  regularly  burnt,  and  the  mistletoe,  with  its  white  berries, 
hung  up,  to  the  imminent  peril  of  all  the  pretty  house-maids.1 

1  The  mistletoe  is  still  hung  up  in  farm-houses  and  kitchens,  at  Christmas;  and  the 
young  men  have  the  privilege  of  kissing  the  girls  under  it,  plucking  each  time  a  berry 
from  the  bush.  When  the  berries  are  all  plucked,  the  privilege  ceases. 


CHRISTMAS  EVE.  153 

So  intent  were  the  servants  upon  their  sports,  that  we  had 
to  ring  repeatedly  before  we  could  make  ourselves  heard.  On 
our  arrival  being  announced,  the  'Squire  came  out  to  receive 
us,  accompanied  by  his  two  other  sons  ;  one  a  young  officer  in 
the  army,  home  on  leave  of  absence ;  the  other  an  Oxonian, 
just  from  the  university.  The  'Squire  was  a  fine  healthy-look- 
ing old  gentleman,  with  silver  hair  curling  lightly  round  an 
open  florid  countenance  ;  in  which  the  physiognomist,  with  the 
advantage,  like  myself,  of  a  previous  hint  or  two,  might  dis- 
cover a  singular  mixture  of  whim  and  benevolence. 

The  family  meeting  was  warm  and  affectionate  ;  as  the  even- 
ing was  far  advanced,  the  'Squire  would  not  permit  us  to 
change  our  travelling  dresses,  but  ushered  us  at  once  to  the 
company,  which  was  assembled  in  a  large  old-fashioned  hall. 
It  was  composed  of  different  branches  of  a  numerous  family 
connection,  where  there  were  the  usual  proportion  of  old 
uncles  and  aunts,  comfortable  married  dames,  superannuated 
spinsters,  blooming  country  cousins,  half-fledged  striplings,  and 
bright-eyed  boarding-school  hoydens.  They  were  variously 
occupied ;  some  at  a  round  game  of  cards ;  others  conversing 
round  the  fireplace ;  at  one  end  of  the  hall  was  a  group  of  the 
young  folks,  some  nearly  grown  up,  others  of  a  more  tender 
and  budding  age,  fully  engrossed  by  a  merry  game  ;  and  a  pro- 
fusion of  wooden  horses,  penny  trumpets,  and  tattered  dolls 
about  the  floor,  showed  traces  of  a  troop  of  little  fairy  beings, 
who,  having  frolicked  through  a  happy  day,  had  been  carried 
off  to  slumber  through  a  peaceful  night. 

While  the  mutual  greetings  were  going  on  between  young 
Bracebridge  and  his  relatives,  I  had  time  to  scan  the  apart- 
ment. I  have  called  it  a  hall,  for  so  it  had  certainly  been  in 
old  times,  and  the  'Squire  had  evidently  endeavored  to  restore 
it  to  something  of  its  primitive  state.  Over  the  heavy  project- 
ing fireplace  was  suspended  a  picture  of  a  warrior  in  armor, 
standing  by  a  white  horse,  and  on  the  opposite  wall  hung  a 
helmet,  buckler,  and  lance.  At  one  end  an  enormous  pair  of 
antlers  were  inserted  in  the  wall,  the  branches  serving  as  hooks 
on  which  to  suspend  hats,  whips,  and  spurs  ;  and  in  the  corners 
of  the  apartment  were  fowling-pieces,  fishing-rods,  and  other 
sporting  implements.  The  furniture  was  of  the  cumbrous 
workmanship  of  former  days,  though  some  articles  of  modern 
convenience  had  been  added,  and  the  oaken  floor  had  been  car- 
peted ;  so  that  the  whole  presented  an  odd  mixture  of  parlor 
and  hall. 

The  grate  had   been  removed  from  the  wide  overwhelming 


154  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

fire-place,  to  make  way  for  a  fire  of  wood,  in  the  midst  of  which 
was  an  enormous  log,  glowing  and  blazing,  and  sending  forth 
a  vast  volume  of  light  and  heat ;  this  I  understood  was  the  yule 
clog,  which  the  'Squire  was  particular  in  having  brought  in  and 
illumined  on  a  Christmas  eve,  according  to  ancient  custom.1 

It  was  really  delightful  to  see  the  old  'Squire,  seated  in  his 
hereditary  elbow-chair,  by  the  hospitable  fireside  of  his  ances- 
tors, and  looking  around  him  like  the  sun  of  a  system,  beaming 
warmth  and  gladness  to  every  heart.  Even  the  very  dog  that 
lay  stretched  at  his  feet,  as  he  lazily  shifted  his  position  and 
yawned,  would  look  fondly  up  in  his  master's  face,  wag  his 
tail  against  the  floor,  and  stretch  himself  again  to  sleep,  con- 
fident of  kindness  and  protection.  There  is  an  emanation  from 
the  heart  in  genuine  hospitality,  which  cannot  be  described, 
but  is  immediately  felt,  and  puts  the  stranger  at  once  at  his 
ease.  I  had  not  been  seated  many  minutes  by  the  comfortable 
hearth  of  the  worthy  old  cavalier,  before  I  found  myself  as 
much  at  home  as  if  I  had  been  one  of  the  family. 

Supper  was  announced  shortly  after  our  arrival.  It  was 
served  up  in  a  spacious  oaken  chamber,  the  panels  of  which 
shone  with  wax,  and  around  which  were  several  family  por- 
traits decorated  with  holly  and  ivy.  Beside  the  accustomed 
lights,  two  great  wax  tapers,  called  Christmas  candles,  wreathed 
with  greens,  were  placed  on  a  highly  polished  beaufet  among 
the  family  plate.  The  table  was  abundantly  spread  with  sub- 
stantial fare ;  but  the  'Squire  made  his  supper  of  frumenty,  a 
dish  made  of  wheat  cakes  boiled  in  milk  with  rich  spices,  being 
a  standing  dish  in  old  times  for  Christmas  eve.  I  was  happy 
to  find  my  old  friend,  minced  pie,  in  the  retinue  of  the  feast ; 
and  finding  him  to  be  perfectly  orthodox,  and  that  I  need  not 
be  ashamed  of  my  predilection,  I  greeted  him  with  all  the 

1  The  yule  clog  is  a  great  log  of  wood,  sometimes  the  root  of  a  tree,  brought  into  the 
house  with  great  ceremony,  on  Christmas  eve,  laid  in  the  fireplace,  and  lighted  with  the 
brand  of  last  year's  clog.  While  it  lasted,  there  was  great  drinking,  singing,  and  telling 
of  tales.  Sometimes  it  was  accompanied  by  Christmas  candles;  but  in  the  cottages,  the 
only  light  was  from  the  ruddy  blaze  of  the  great  wood  fire.  The  yule  clog  was  to  burn  all 
night :  if  it  went  out,  it  was  considered  a  sign  of  ill  luck. 

Herrick  mentions  it  in  one  of  his  songs  : 

Come  bring  with  a  noise, 
My  merrie,  merrte  boys, 
The  Christmas  Log  to  the  firing; 

While  my  good  dame  she 

Bids  ye  all  be  free, 
And  drink  to  your  hearts  desiring. 

The  yule  clog  is  still  burnt  in  many  farm-houses  and  kitchens  in  England,  partic- 
ularly in  the  north;  and  there  are  several  superstitious  connected  with  it  among  the 
peasantry.  If  a  squinting  person  come  to  the  house  while  it  is  burning,  or  a  person 
barefooted,  it  is  considered  an  ill  omen.  The  brand  remaining  from  the  yule  clog  is 
carefully  put  away  to  light  the  next  year's  Christmas  fire. 


CHRISTMAS  EVE,  155 

warmth  wherewith  we  usually  greet  an  old  and  very  genteel 
acquaintance. 

The  mirth  of  the  company  was  greatly  promoted  by  the 
humors  of  an  eccentric  personage,  whom  Mr.  Braccbridg  al- 
ways addressed  with  the  quaint  appellation  of  Master  Simon. 
He  was  a  tight  brisk  little  man,  with  the  air  of  an  arrant  old 
bachelor.  His  nose  was  shaped  like  the  bill  of  a  parrot,  his 
face  slightly  pitted  with  the  small-pox,  with  a  dry  perpetual 
bloom  on  it,  like  a  frost-bitten  leaf  in  autumn.  He  had  an  eye 
of  great  quickness  and  vivacity,  with  a  drollery  and  lurking 
waggery  of  expression  that  was  irresistable.  He  was  evidently 
the  wit  of  the  family,  dealing  very  much  in  sly  jokes  and  innu- 
endoes with  the  ladies,  and  making  infinite  merriment  by  harp- 
ing upon  old  themes ;  which,  unfortunately,  my  ignorance  of 
the  family  chronicles  did  not  permit  me  to  enjoy.  It  seemed 
to  be  his  great  delight,  during  supper,  to  keep  a  young  girl  next 
to  him  in  a  continual  agony  of  stifled  laughter,  in  spite  of  her 
awe  of  the  reproving  looks  of  her  mother,  who  sat  opposite. 
Indeed,  he  was  the  idol  of  the  younger  part  of  the  company, 
who  laughed  at  every  thing  he  said  or  did,  and  at  every  turn  of 
his  countenance.  I  could  not  wonder  at  it ;  for  he  must  have 
been  a  miracle  of  accomplishments  in  their  eyes.  He  could 
imitate  Punch  and  Judy ;  make  an  old  woman  of  his  hand, 
with  the  assistance  of  a  burnt  cork  and  pocket  handkerchief ; 
and  cut  an  orange  into  such  a  ludicrous  caricature,  that  the 
young  folks  were  ready  to  die  with  laughing. 

I  was  let  briefly  into  his  history  by  Frank  Bracebridge.  He 
was  an  old  bachelor,  of  a  small  independent  income,  which,  by 
careful  management,  was  sufficient  for  all  his  wants.  He  re- 
volved through  the  family  system  like  a  vagrant  comet  in  its 
orbit ;  sometimes  visiting  one  branch,  and  sometimes  another 
quite  remote,  as  is  often  the  case  with  gentlemen  of  extensive 
connections  and  small  fortunes  in  England.  He  had  a  chirping, 
buoyant  disposition,  always  enjoying  the  present  moment ;  and 
his  frequent  change  of  scene  and  company  prevented  his  ac- 
quiring those  rusty,  unaccommodating  habits,  with  which  old 
bachelors  are  so  uncharitably  charged.  He  was  a  complete 
family  chronicle,  being  versed  in  the  genealogy,  history,  and 
intermarriages  of  the  whole  house  of  Bracebridge,  which  made 
him  a  great  favorite  with  the  old  folks ;  he  was  a  beau  of  all 
the  elder  ladies  and  superannuated  spinsters,  among  whom  he 
was  habitually  considered  rather  a  young  fellow,  and  he  was 
master  of  the  revels  among  the  children  ;  so  that  there  was  not 
u  more  popular  being  in  the  sphere  in  which  he  moved,  than 


156  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Mr.  Simon  Bracebridge.  Of  late  years,  he  had  resided  almost 
entirely  with  the  'Squire,  to  whom  he  had  become  a  factotum, 
and  whom  he  particularly  delighted  by  jumping  with  his  hu- 
mor in  respect  to  old  times,  and  by  having  a  scrap  of  an  old 
song  to  suit  every  occasion.  We  had  presently  a  specimen  of 
his  last-mentioned  talent ;  for  no  sooner  was  supper  removed, 
and  spiced  wines  and  other  beverages  peculiar  to  the  season 
introduced,  than  Master  Simon  was  called  on  for  a  good  old 
Christmas  song.  He  bethought  himself  for  a  moment,  and 
then,  with  a  sparkle  of  the  eye,  and  a  voice  that  was  by  no 
means  bad,  excepting  that  it  ran  occasionally  into  a  falsetto, 
like  the  notes  of  a  split  reed,  he  quavered  forth  a  quaint  old 
ditty : 

Now  Christmas  is  come, 

Let  us  beat  up  the  drum, 
And  call  all  our  neighbors  together; 

And  when  they  appear, 

Let  us  make  them  such  cheer, 
As  will  keep  out  the  wind  and  the  weather,  etc. 

The  supper  had  disposed  every  one  to  gayety,  and  an  old 
harper  was  summoned  from  the  servants'  hall,  where  he  had 
been  strumming  all  the  evening,  and  to  all  appearance  comfort- 
ing himself  with  some  of  the  'Squire's  home-brewed.  He  was 
a  kind  of  hanger-on,  I  was  told,  of  the  establishment,  and 
though  ostensibly  a  resident  of  the  village,  was  oftener  to  be 
found  in  the  'Squire's  kitchen  than  his  own  home  ;  the  old  gen- 
tleman being  fond  of  the  sound  of  "  Harp  in  hall." 

The  dance,  like  most  dances  after  supper,  was  a  merry  one  ; 
some  of  the  older  folks  joined  in  it,  and  the  'Squire  himself 
figured  down  several  couple  with  a  partner  with  whom  he 
affirmed  he  had  danced  at  every  Christmas  for  nearly  half  a 
century.  Master  Simon,  who  seemed  to  be  a  kind  of  connect- 
ing link  between  the  old  times  and  the  new,  and  to  be  withal  a 
little  antiquated  in  the  taste  of  his  accomplishments,  evidently 
piqued  himself  on  his  dancing,  and  was  endeavoring  to  gain 
credit  by  the  heel  and  toe,  rigadoon,  and  other  graces  of  the 
ancient  school ;  but  he  had  unluckily  assorted  himself  with  a 
little  romping  girl  from  boarding-school,  who,  by  Tier  wild 
vivacity,  kept  him  continually  on  the  stretch,  and  defeated  all 
his  sober  attempts  at  elegance :  —  such  are  the  ill-assorted 
matches  to  which  antique  gentlemen  are  unfortunately  prone ! 

The  young  Oxonian,  on  the  contrary,  had  led  out  one  of  his 
maiden  aunts,  on  whom  the  rogue  played  a  thousand  little 
knaveries  with  impunity  ;  he  was  full  of  practical  jokes,  and  his 


CHRISTMAS  EVE.  157 

delight  was  to  tease  his  aunts  and  cousins ;  yet,  like  all  madcap 
youngsters,  he  was  a  universal  favorite  among  the  women.  The 
most  interesting  couple  in  the  dance  was  the  young  officer,  and 
a  ward  of  the  'Squire's,  a  beautiful  blushing  girl  of  seventeen. 
From  several  shy  glances  which  I  had  noticed  in  the  course  of 
the  evening,  I  suspected  there  was  a  little  kindness  growing  up 
between  them  ;  and,  indeed,  the  young  soldier  was  just  the  hero 
to  captivate  a  romantic  girl.  He  was  tall,  slender,  and  hand- 
some ;  and,  like  most  young  British  officers  of  late  years,  had 
picked  up  various  small  accomplishments  on  the  continent  —  he 
could  talk  French  and  Italian  —  draw  landscapes  —  sing  very 
tolerably  —  dance  divinely  ;  but,  above  all,  he  had  been  wounded 
at  Waterloo  :  —  what  girl  of  seventeen,  well  read  in  poetry  and 
romance,  could  resist  such  a  mirror  of  chivalry  and  perfection? 
The  moment  the  dance  was  over,  he  caught  up  a  guitar,  and 
Jolling  against  the  old  marble  fireplace,  in  an  attitude  which  I 
am  half  inclined  to  suspect  was  studied,  began  the  little  French 
air  of  the  Troubadour.  The  'Squire,  however,  exclaimed 
against  having  any  thing  on  Christmas  eve  but  good  old  English  ; 
upon  which  the  young  minstrel,  casting  up  his  eye  for  a  moment, 
as  if  in  an  effort  of  memory,  struck  into  another  strain,  and 
with  a  charming  air  of  gallantry,  gave  Herrick's  "  Night-Piece 
to  Julia:" 

Her  eyes  the  glow-worm  lend  thee, 
The  shooting  stars  attend  thee, 

And  the  elves  also, 

Whose  little  eyes  glow 
Like  the  sparks  of  fire,  befriend  thee. 

No  Will-o'-the-Wisp  mislightthee; 
Nor  snake  nor  slow-worm  bite  thee ; 

But  on,  on  thy  way, 

Not  making  a  stay, 
Since  ghost  there  is  none  to  affright  thee. 

Then  let  not  the  dark  thee  cumber; 
What  though  the  moon  does  slumber, 

The  stars  of  the  night 

Will  lend  thee  their  light, 
Like  tapers  clear  without  number. 

Then,  Julia,  let  me  woo  thee, 
Thus,  thus  to  come  unto  me : 

And  when  I  shall  meet 

Thy  silvery  feet, 
My  soul  I'll  pour  into  thee. 

The  song  might  or  might  not  have  been  intended  in  compli- 
ment to  the  fair  Julia,  for  so  I  found  his  partner  was  called ; 


158  THE   SKETCH-HOOK. 

she,  however,  was  certainly  unconscious  of  any  such  applica- 
tion ;  for  she.  nevef  looked  at  the  singer,  but  kept  her  eyes  cast 
upon  the  floor ;  her  face  was  suffused,  it  is  true,  with  a  beauti- 
ful blush,  and  there  was  a  gentle  heaving  of  the  bosom,  but  all 
that  was  doubtless  caused  by  the  exercise  of  the  dance  :  indeed, 
so  great  was  her  indifference,  that  she  amused  herself  with 
plucking  to  pieces  a  choice  bouquet  of  hot-house  flowers,  and 
by  the  time  the  song  was  concluded  the  nosegay  lay  in  ruins  en 
the  floor. 

The  party  now  broke  up  for  the  night,  with  the  kind  hearted 
old  custom  of  shaking  hands.  As  I  passed  through  the  hall  on 
my  way  to  my  chamber,  the  dying  embers  of  the  yule  clog  still 
sent  forth  a  dusky  glow  ;  and  had  it  not  been  the  season  when 
"  no  spirit  dares  stir  abroad,"  I  should  have  been  half  tempted 
to  steal  from  my  room  at  midnight,  and  peep  whether  the  fairies 
might  not  be  at  their  revels  about  the  hearth. 

My  chamber  was  in  the  old  part  of  the  mansion,  the  ponder- 
ous furniture  of  which  might  have  been  fabricated  in  the  days 
of  the  giants.  The  room  was  panelled,  with  cornices  of  heavy 
carved  work,  in  which  flowers  and  grotesque  faces  were 
strangely  intermingled,  and  a  row  of  black-looking  portraits 
stared  mournfully  at  me  from  the  walls.  The  bed  was  of  rich, 
though  faded  damask,  with  a  lofty  tester,  and  stood  in  a  niche 
opposite  a  bow-window.  I  had  scarcely  got  into  bed  when  a 
strain  of  music  seemed  to  break  forth  in  the  air  just  below  the 
window :  I  listened,  and  found  it  proceeded  from  a  baud,  which 
I  concluded  to  be  the  waits  from  some  neighboring  village. 
They  went  round  the  house,  playing  under  the  windows.  I 
drew  aside  the  curtains,  to  hear  them  more  distinctly.  The 
moonbeams  fell  through  the  upper  part  of  the  casement,  par- 
tially lighting  up  the  antiquated  apartment.  The  sounds,  as 
they  receded,  became  more  soft  and  aerial,  and  seemed  to  accord 
with  quiet  and  moonlight.  I  listened  and  listened  —  they  be- 
came more  and  more  tender  and  remote,  and,  as  they  gradually 
died  away,  my  head  sunk  upon  the  pillow,  and  I  fell  asleep. 


CHRISTMAS   DAT.  159 


CHRISTMAS  DAY. 

Dark  and  dull  night  flie  hence  away, 
And  give  the  honour  to  this  day 
That  sees  December  turn'd  to  May. 

Why  does  the  chilling  winter's  morne 

Smile  like  a  field  beset  with  corn? 

Or  smell  like  to  a  meade  new-shorne, 

Thus  on  the  sudden?  —  come  and  see 

The  cause,  why  things  thus  fragrant  be.  — HERRICK. 

WHEN  I  woke  the  next  morning,  it  seemed  as  if  all  the  events 
of  the  preceding  evening  had  been  a  dream,  and  nothing  but 
the  identity  of  the  ancient  chamber  convinced  me  of  their 
reality.  While  I  lay  musing  on  my  pillow,  I  heard  the  sound 
of  little  feet  pattering  outside  of  the  door,  and  a  whispering 
consultation.  Presently  a  choir  of  small  voices  chanted  forth 
an  old  Christmas  carol,  the  burden  of  which  was  — 

Rejoice,  our  Saviour  he  was  born 
On  Christmas  day  in  the  morning. 

I  rose  softly,  slipt  on  my  clothes,  opened  the  door  suddenly, 
and  beheld  one  of  the  most  beautiful  little  fairy  groups  that  a 
painter  could  imagine.  It  consisted  of  a  boy  and  two  girls,  the 
eldest  not  more  than  six,  and  lovely  as  seraphs.  They  were 
going  the  rounds  of  the  house,  and  singing  at  every  chamber  door, 
but  my  sudden  appearance  frightened  them  into  mute  bashful- 
ness.  They  remained  for  a  moment  playing  on  their  lips  with 
their  fingers,  and  now  and  then  stealing  a  shy  glance  from 
under  their  eyebrows,  until, 'as  if  by  one  impulse,  they  scam- 
pered away,  and  as  they  turned  an  angle  of  the  gallery,  I  heard 
them  laughing  in  triumph  at  their  escape. 

Every  thing  conspired  to  produce  kind  and  happy  feelings , 
in  this  stronghold  of  old-fashioned  hospitality.  The  window 
of  my  chamber  looked  out  upon  what  in  summer  would  have 
been  a  beautiful  landscape.  There  was  a  sloping  lawn,  a  fine 
stream  winding  at  the  foot  of  it,  and  a  tract  of  park  beyond, 
with  noble  clumps  of  trees,  and  herds  of  deer.  At  a  distance 
was  a  neat  hamlet,  with  the  smoke  from  the  cottage  chimneys 
hanging  over  it ;  and  a  church,  with  its  dark  spire  in  strong 
relief  against  the  clear  cold  sk}7.  The  house  was  surrounded 
with  evergreens,  according  to  the  English  custom,  which  would 


160  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

have  given  almost  an  appearance  of  summer  ;  but  the  morning 
was  extremely  frosty  ;  the  light  vapor  of  the  preceding  evening 
had  been  precipitated  by  the  cold,  and  covered  all  the  trees  and 
every  blade  of  grass  with  its  fine  crystallizations.  The  rays  of 
a  bright  morning  sun  had  a  dazzling  effect  among  the  glittering 
foliage.  A  robin  perched  upon  the  top  of  a  mountain  ash,  that 
hung  its  clusters  of  red  berries  just  before  my  window,  was 
basking  himself  in  the  sunshine,  and  piping  a  few  querulous 
notes  ;  and  a  peacock  was  displaying  all  the  glories  of  his  train, 
and  strutting  with  the  pride  and  gravity  of  a  Spanish  grandee 
on  the  terrace-walk  below. 

I  had  scarcely  dressed  myself,  when  a  servant  appeared  to 
invite  me  to  family  prayers.  He  showed  me  the  way  to  a  small 
chapel  in  the  old  wing  of  the  house,  where  I  found  the  princi- 
pal part  of  the  family  already  assembled  in  a  kind  of  galleiy, 
furnished  with  cushions,  hassocks,  and  large  prayer-books ;  the 
servants  were  seated  on  benches  below.  The  old  gentleman 
read  prayers  from  a  desk  in  front  of  the  gallery,  and  Master 
Simon  acted  as  clerk  and  made  the  responses ;  and  I  must  do 
him  the  justice  to  say,  that  he  acquitted  himself  with  great 
gravity  and  decorum. 

The  service  was  followed  by  a  Christmas  carol,  which  Mr. 
Bracebridge  himself  had  constructed  from  a  poem  of  his  favor- 
ite author  Herrick;  and  it  had  been  adapted  to  an  old  church 
melody  by  Master  Simon.  As  there  were  several  good  voices 
among  the  household,  the  effect  was  extremely  pleasing ;  but  I  was 
particularly  gratified  by  the  exaltation  of  heart,  and  sudden 
sally  of  grateful  feeling,  with  which  the  worthy  'Squire  delivered 
one  stanza ;  his  eye  glistening,  and  his  voice  rambling  out  of 
all  the  bounds  of  time  and  tune  : 

"  Tis  thou  that  crown'st  my  glittering  hearth 

With  guiltlesse  mirth, 
And  givest  me  Wassaile  bowles  to  drink 
Spiced  to  the  brink  : 

Lord,  'tis  thy  plenty-dropping  hand 

That  soiles  my  land  : 
And  giv'st  me  for  my  bushell  sowne, 

Twice  ten  for  one." 

I  afterwards  understood  that  early  morning  service  was  read 
on  every  Sunday  and  saint's  day  throughout  the  year,  either  by 
Mr.  Bracebridge  or  by  some  member  of  the  family.  It  was  once 
almost  universally  the  case  at  the  seats  of  the  nobility  and  gen- 


CHRISTMAS  DAT.  161 

try  of  England,  and  it  is  much  to  be  regretted  that  the  custom 
is  falling  into  neglect ;  for  the  dullest  observer  must  be  sensible 
of  the  order  and  serenity  prevalent  in  those  households,  where 
the  occasional  exercise  of  a  beautiful  form  of  worship  in  the 
morning  gives,  as  it  were,  the  key-note  to  every  temper  for  the 
day,  and  attunes  every  spirit  to  harmony. 

Our  breakfast  consisted  of  what  the  'Squire  denominated  true 
old  English  fare.  He  indulged  in  some  bitter  lamentations 
over  modern  breakfasts  of  tea  and  toast,  which  he  censured  as 
among  the  causes  of  modern  effeminacy  and  weak  nerves,  and 
the  decline  of  old  English  heartiness :  and  though  he  admitted 
them  to  his  table  to  suit  the  palates  of  his  guests,  yet  there  was 
a  brave  display  of  cold  meats,  wine,  and  ale,  on  the  sideboard. 

After  breakfast,  I  walked  about  the  grounds  with  Frank 
Bracebridge  and  Master  Simon,  or  Mr.  Simon,  as  he  was  called 
by  everybody  but  the  'Squire.  We  were  escorted  by  a  number 
of  gentlemen-like  dogs,  that  seemed  loungers  about  the  estab- 
lishment ;  from  the  frisking  spaniel  to  the  steady  old  stag-hound 
—  the  last  of  which  was  of  a  race  that  had  been  in  the  family 
time  out  of  mind  —  they  were  all  obedient  to  a  dog- whistle 
which  hung  to  Master  Simon's  button-hole,  and  in  the  midst  of 
their  gambols  would  glance  an  eye  occasionally  upon  a  small 
switch  he  carried  in  his  hand. 

The  old  mansion  had  a  still  more  venerable  look  in  the  yellow 
sunshine  than  by  pale  moonlight ;  and  I  could  not  but  feel  the 
force  of  the  'Squire's  idea,  that  the  formal  terraces,  heavily 
moulded  balustrades,  and  clipped  yew  trees,  carried  with  them 
an  air  of  proud  aristocracy. 

There  appeared  to  be  an  unusual  number  of  peacocks  about 
the  place,  and  I  was  making  some  remarks  upon  what  I  termed 
a  flock  of  them  that  were  basking  under  a  sunny  wall,  when  I 
was  gently  corrected  in  my  phraseology  by  Master  Simon,  who 
told  me  that  according  to  the  most  ancient  and  approved  trea- 
tise on  hunting,  I  must  say  a  muster  of  peacocks.  "In  the 
same  way,"  added  he,  with  a  slight  air  of  pedantry,  "  we  say 
a  flight  of  doves  or  swallows,  a  bevy  of  quails,  a  herd  of  deer, 
of  wrens,  or  cranes,  a  skulk  of  foxes,  or  a  building  of  rooks." 
He  went  on  to  inform  me  that,  according  to  Sir  Anthony  Fitz- 
herbert,  we  ought  to  ascribe  to  this  bird  "both  understanding 
and  glory ;  for,  being  praised,  he  will  presently  set  up  his  tail, 
chiefly  against  the  sun,  to  the  intent  you  may  the  better  behold 
the  beauty  thereof.  But  at  the  fall  of  the  leaf,  when  his  tail 
falleth,  he  will  mourn  and  hide  himself  in  corners,  till  his  tail  come 
again  as  it  was." 


162  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

I  could  not  help  smiling  at  this  display  of  small  erudition  on 
so  whimsical  a  subject ;  but  I  found  that  the  peacocks  were 
birds  of  some  consequence  at  the  Hall ;  for  Frank  Bracebridge 
informed  me  that  they  were  great  favorites  with  his  father,  who 
was  extremely  careful  to  keep  up  the  breed,  partly  because  they 
belonged  to  chivalry,  and  were  in  great  request  at  the  stately 
banquets  of  the  olden  time ;  and  partly  because  they  had  a 
pomp  and  magnificence  about  them  highly  becoming  an  old 
family  mansion.  Nothing,  he  was  accustomed  to  say,  had  an 
air  of  greater  state  and  dignity,  than  a  peacock  perched  upon 
an  antique  stone  balustrade. 

Master  Simon  had  now  to  hurry  off,  having  an  appointment 
at  the  parish  church  with  the  village  choristers,  who  were  to 
perform  some  music  of  his  selection.  There  was  something 
extremely  agreeable  in  the  cheerful  flow  of  animal  spirits  of  the 
little  man  ;  and  I  confess  I  had  been  somewhat  surprised  at  his 
apt  quotations  from  authors  who  certainly  were  not  in  the  range 
of  every-day  reading.  I  mentioned  this  last  circumstance  to 
Frank  Bracebridge,  who  told  me  with  a  smile  that  Master 
Simon's  whole  stock  of  erudition  was  confined  to  some  half-a- 
dozen  old  authors,  which  the  'Squire  had  put  into  his  hands, 
and  which  he  read  over  and  over,  whenever  he  had  a  studious 
fit ;  as  he  sometimes  had  on  a  rainy  day,  or  a  long  winter  even- 
ing. Sir  Anthony  Fitzherbert's  Book  of  Husbandry ;  Mark- 
ham's  Country  Contentments ;  the  Tretyse  of  Hunting,  by  Sir 
Thomas  Cockayne,  Knight ;  Izaak  Walton's  Angler,  and  two 
or  three  more  such  ancient  worthies  of  the  pen,  were  his  stand- 
ard authorities ;  and,  like  all  men  who  know  but  a  few  books, 
he  looked  up  to  them  with  a  kind  of  idolatry,  and  quoted  them 
on  all  occasions.  As  to  his  songs,  they  were  chiefly  picked  out 
of  old  books  in  the  'Squire's  library,  and  adapted  to  tunes  that 
were  popular  among  the  choice  spirits  of  the  last  century.  His 
practical  application  of  scraps  of  literature,  however,  had  caused 
him  to  be  looked  upon  as  a  prodigy  of  book-knowledge  by  all 
the  grooms,  huntsmen,  and  small  sportsmen  of  the  neighbor- 
hood. 

While  we  were  talking,  we  heard  the  distant  toll  of  the  village 
bell,  and  I  was  told  that  the  'Squire  was  a  little  particular  in 
having  his  household  at  church  on  a  Christmas  morning  ;  con- 
sidering it  a  day  of  pouring  out  of  thanks  and  rejoicing ;  for, 
as  old  Tusser  observed,  — 


"  At  Christmas  be  merry,  and  thankful  withal, 
And  feast  thy  poor  neighbors,  the  great  with  the  small.' 


CHRISTMAS  DAY,  163 

"  If  you  are  disposed  to  go  to  church,"  said  Frank  Brace- 
bridge,  "  I  can  promise  you  a  specimen  of  my  cousin  Simon's 
musical  achievements.  As  the  church  is  destitute  of  an  organ, 
he  has  formed  a  band  from  the  village  amateurs,  and  estab- 
lished a  musical  club  for  their  improvement ;  he  has  also  sorted 
a  choir,  as  he  sorted  my  father's  pack  of  hounds,  according  to 
the  directions  of  Jervaise  Markham,  in  his  Country  Content- 
ments ;  for  the  bass  he  has  sought  out  all  the  '  deep,  solemn 
mouths,'  and  for  the  tenor  the  '  loud  ringing  mouths,'  am  on  n; 
the  country  bumpkins  ;  and  for  '  sweet  mouths,'  he  has  culled 
with  curious  taste  among  the  prettiest  lasses  in  the  neighbor- 
hood ;  though  these  last,  he  affirms,  are  the  most  difficult  to 
keep  in  tune ;  your  pretty  female  singer  being  exceedingly 
wayward  and  capricious,  and  very  liable  to  accident." 

As  the  morning,  though  frosty,  was  remarkably  fine  and 
clear,  the  most  of  the  family  walked  to  the  church,  which  was  a 
very  old  building  of  gray  stone,  and  stood  near  a  village,  about 
half  a  mile  from  the  park  gate.  Adjoining  it  was  a  low  snug 
parsonage,  which  seemed  coeval  with  the  church.  The  front 
of  it  was  perfectly  matted  with  a  yew  tree,  that  had  been  trained 
against  its  walls,  through  the  dense  foliage  of  which,  apertures 
had  been  formed  to  admit  light  into  the  small  antique  lattices. 
As  we  passed  this  sheltered  nest,  the  parson  issued  forth  and 
preceded  us. 

I  had  expected  to  see  a  sleek  well-conditioned  pastor,  such 
as  is  often  found  in  a  snug  living  in  the  vicinity  of  a  rich  pa- 
tron's table,  but  I  was  disappointed.  The  parson  was  a  little, 
meagre,  black-looking  man,  with  a  grizzled  wig  that  was  too 
wide,  and  stood  off  from  each  ear ;  so  that  his  head  seemed  to 
have  shrunk  away  within  it,  like  a  dried  filbert  in  its  shell.  He 
wore  a  rusty  coat,  with  great  skirts,  and  pockets  that  would 
have  held  the  church  Bible  and  prayer-book  :  and  his  small  legs 
seemed  still  smaller,  from  being  planted  in  large  shoes,  deco- 
rated with  enormous  buckles. 

I  was  informed  by  Frank  Bracebridge  that  the  parson  had 
been  a  chum  of  his  father's  at  Oxford,  and  had  received  this 
living  shortly  after  the  latter  had  come  to  his  estate.  He  was 
a  complete  black-letter  hunter,  and  would  scarcely  read  a  work 
printed  in  the  Roman  character.  The  editions  of  Caxton  and 
Wynkin  de  Worde  were  his  delight ;  and  he  was  indefatigable 
in  his  researches  after  such  old  English  writers  as  have  fallen 
into  oblivion  from  their  worthlessness.  In  deference,  perhaps, 
to  the  notions  of  Mr.  Bracebridge,  he  had  made  diligent  inves- 
tigations into  the  festive  rites  and  holiday  customs  of  former 


164  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

times  ;  and  had  been  as  zealous  in  the  inquiry,  as  if  he  had  been 
a  boon  companion  ;  but  it  .was  merely  with  that  plodding  spirit 
with  which  men  of  adust  temperament  follow  up  any  track  of 
study,  merely  because  it  is  denominated  learning ;  indifferent 
to  its  intrinsic  nature,  whether  it  be  the  illustration  of  the  wis- 
dom, or  of  the  ribaldry  and  obscenity  of  antiquity.  He  had 
pored  over  these  old  volumes  so  intensely,  that  they  seemed  to 
have  been  reflected  in  his  countenance ;  which,  if  the  face  be 
indeed  an  index  of  the  mind,  might  be  compared  to  a  title-page 
of  black-letter. 

On  reaching  the  church-porch,  we  found  the  parson  rebuking 
the  gray-headed  sexton  for  having  used  mistletoe  among  the 
greens  with  which  the  church  was  decorated.  It  was,  he  ob- 
served, an  unholy  plant,  profaned  by  having  been  used  by  the 
Druids  in  their  mystic  ceremonies  ;  and  though  it  might  be  in- 
nocently employed  in  the  festive  ornamenting  of  halls  and 
kitchens,  yet  it  had  been  deemed  by  the  Fathers  of  the  Church 
as  unhallowed,  and  totally  unfit  for  sacred  purposes.  So  tena- 
cious was  he  on  this  point,  that  the  poor  sexton  was  obliged  to 
strip  down  a  great  part  of  the  humble  trophies  of  his  taste, 
before  the  parson  would  consent  to«nter  upon  the  service  of  the 
day. 

The  interior  of  the  church  was  venerable,  but  simple  ;  on  the 
walls  were  several  mural  monuments  of  the  Bracebridges,  and 
just  beside  the  altar,  was  a  tomb  of  ancient  workmanship,  on 
which  lay  the  effigy  of  a  warrior  in  armor,  with  his  legs 
crossed,  a  sign  of  his  having  been  a  crusader.  I  was  told  it 
was  one  of  the  family  who  had  signalized  himself  in  the  Holy 
Land,  and  the  same  whose  picture  hung  over  the  fireplace  in 
the  hall. 

During  service,  Master  Simon  stood  up  in  the  pew,  and  re- 
peated the  responses  very  audibly  ;  evincing  that  kind  of  cere- 
monious devotion  punctually  observed  by  a  gentleman  of  the 
old  school,  and  a  man  of  old  family  connections.  I  observed, 
too,  that  he  turned  over  the  leaves  of  a  folio  prayer-book  with 
something  of  a  flourish,  possibly  to  show  off  an  enormous  seal- 
ring  which  enriched  one  of  his  fingers,  and  which  had  the  look 
of  a  family  relic.  But  he  was  evidently  most  solicitous  about 
the  musical  part  of  the  service,  keeping  his  eye  fixed  intently 
on  the  choir,  and  beating  time  with  much  gesticulation  and 
emphasis. 

The  orchestra  was  in  a  small  gallery,  and  presented  a  most 
whimsical  grouping  of  heads,  piled  one  above  the  other,  among 
which  I  particularly  noticed  that  of  the  village  tailor,  a  pale 


CHRISTMAS  DAY.  165 

fellow  with  a  retreating  forehead  and  chin,  who  played  on  the 
clarionet,  and  seemed  to  have  blown  his  face  to  a  point :  and 
there  was  another,  a  short  pursy  man,  stooping  and  laboring 
at  a  bass  viol,  so  as  to  show  nothing  but  the  top  of  a  round  bald 
head,  like  the  egg  of  an  ostrich.  There  were  two  or  three  pretty 
faces  among  the  female  singers,  to  which  the  keen  air  of  a 
frosty  morning  had  given  a  bright  rosy  tint :  but  the  gentlemen 
choristers  had  evidently  been  chosen,  like  old  Cremona  fiddles, 
more  for  tone  than  looks ;  and  as  several  had  to  sing  from  the 
same  book,  there  were  clusterings  of  odd  physiognomies,  not 
unlike  those  groups  of  cherubs  we  sometimes  see  on  country 
tombstones. 

The  usual  services  of  the  choir  were  managed  tolerably  well, 
the  vocal  parts  generally  lagging  a  little  behind  the  instrumen- 
tal, and  some  loitering  fiddler  now  and  then  making  up  for  lost 
time  by  travelling  over  a  passage  with  prodigious  celerity,  and 
clearing  more  bars  than  the  keenest  fox-hunter,  to  be  in  at  the 
death.  But  the  great  trial  was  an  anthem  that  had  been  pre-. 
pared  and  arranged  by  Master  Simon,  and  on  which  he  had 
founded  great  expectation.  Unluckily  there  was  a  blunder  at 
the  very  outset — the  musicians  became  flurried  ;  Master  Simon 
was  in  a  fever ;  every  thing  went  on  lamely  and  irregularly, 
until  they  came  to  a  chorus  beginning,  "  Now  let  us  sing  with 
one  accord,"  which  seemed  to  be  a  signal  for  parting  company  : 
all  became  discord  and  confusion  ;  each  shifted  for  himself,  and 
got  to  the  end  as  well,  or,  rather,  as  soon  as  he  could ;  except- 
ing one  old  chorister,  in  a  pair  of  horn  spectacles,  bestriding 
and  pinching  a  long  sonorous  nose  ;  who,  happening  to  stand  a 
little  apart,  and  being  wrapped  up  in  his  own  melody,  kept  on 
a  quavering  course,  wriggling  his  head,  ogling  his  book,  and 
winding  all  up  by  a  nasal  solo  of  at  least  three  bars'  duration. 

The  parson  gave  us  a  most  erudite  sermon  on  the  rites  and 
ceremonies  of  Christmas,  and  the  propriety  of  observing  it,  not 
merely  as  a  day  of  thanksgiving,  but  of  rejoicing  ;  supporting 
the  correctness  of  his  opinions  by  the  earliest  usages  of  the 
church,  and  enforcing  them  by  the  authorities  of  Theophilus  of 
Cesarea,  St.  Cyprian,  St.  Chrysostom,  St.  Augustine,  and  a 
cloud  more  of  Saints  and  Fathers,  from  whom  he  made  copious 
quotations.  I  was  a  little  at  a  loss  to  perceive  the  necessity  of 
such  a  mighty  array  of  forces  to  maintain  a  point  which  no  one 
present  seemed  inclined  to  dispute  ;  but  I  soon  found  that  the 
good  man  had  a  legion  of  ideal  adversaries  to  contend  with ; 
having,  in  the  course  of  his  researches  on  the  subject  of  Christ- 
mas, got  completely  embroiled  in  the  sectarian  controversies  of 


166  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

the  Revolution,  when  the  Puritans  made  such  a  fierce  assault 
upon  the  ceremonies  of  the  church  and  poor  old  Christmas  was 
driven  out  of  the  land  by  proclamation  of  Parliament.1  The 
worthy  parson  lived  but  with  times  past,  and  knew  but  little 
of  the  present. 

Shut  up  among  worm-eaten  tomes  in  the  retirement  of  his 
antiquated  little  study,  the  pages  of  old  times  were  to  him  as 
the  gazettes  of  the  day ;  while  the  era  of  the  Revolution  was 
mere  modern  history.  He  forgot  that  nearly  two  centuries  had 
elapsed  since  the  fiery  persecution  of  poor  mince-pie  through- 
out the  laud;  when  plum  porridge  was  denounced  as  "mere 
popery,"  and  roast  beef  as  anti-Christian;  and  that  Christmas 
had  been  brought  in  again  triumphantly  with  the  merry  court 
of  King  Charles  at  the  Restoration.  He  kindled  into  warmth 
with  the  ardor  of  his  contest,  and  the  host  of  imaginary  foes 
with  whom  he  had  to  combat ;  he  had  a  stubborn  conflict  with 
old  Prynne  and  two  or  three  other  forgotten  champions  of  the 
Round  Heads,  on  the  subject  of  Christmas  festivity ;  and  con- 
cluded by  urging  his  hearers,  in  the  most  solemn  and  affecting 
manner,  to  stand  to  the  traditional  customs  of  their  fathers, 
and  feast  and  make  merry  on  this  joyful  anniversary  of  the 
church. 

I  have  seldom  known  a  sermon  attended  apparently  with 
more  immediate  effects ;  for  on  leaving  the  church,  the  congre- 
gation seemed  one  and  all  possessed  with  the  gayety  of  spirit 
so  earnestly  enjoined  by  their  pastor.  The  elder  folks  gathered 
in  knots  in  the  churchyard,  greeting  and  shaking  hands ;  and 
the  children  ran  about  crying,  Ule  !  Ule  !  and  repeating  some 
uncouth  rhymes,2  which  the  parson,  who  had  joined  us,  in- 
formed me  had  been  handed  down  from  days  of  yore.  The 
villagers  doffed  their  hats  to  the  'Squire  as  he  passed,  giving 
him  the  good  wishes  of  the  season  with  every  appearance  of 
heartfelt  sincerity,  and  were  invited  by  him  to  the  hall,  to  take 
something  to  keep  out  the  cold  of  the  weather ;  and  I  heard 
blessings  uttered  by  several  of  the  poor,  which  convinced  me 

1  From  the  "Flying  Eagle,"  a  small  Gazette,  published  December  24th,  1652  — 
"  The  House  spent  much  time  this  day  about  the  business  of  the  Navy,  for  settling 
the  affairs  at  sea,  and  before  they  rose,  were  presented  with  a  terrible  remonstrance 
against  Christmas  day,  grounded  upon  divine  Scriptures,  2  Cor.  v.  16.  1  Cor.  xv.  14, 
17;  and  in  honour  of  the  Lord's  Day,  grounded  upon  these  Scriptures,  John  xx.  1. 
Rev.  i.  10.  Psalms,  cxviii.  24.  Lev.  xxiii.  7,  11.  Mark,  xv.  8.  Psalms,  Ixxxiv.  10;  in 
which  Christmas  is  called  Anti  Christ's  masse,  and  those  Masse-mongers  and  Papists 
who  observe  it,  etc.  In  consequence  of  which  Parliament  spent  some  time  in  consul- 
tation about  the  abolition  of  Christmas  day,  passed  orders  to  that  effect,  and  re- 
solved to  sit  on  the  following  day  which  was  commonly  called  Christmas  day." 
2  "Ule!  Ule! 

Three  puddings  in  a  pule; 
Craek  nuts  and  cry  ule!  " 


CHRISTMAS  DAY.  167 

that,  in  the  midst  of  his  enjoyments,  the  worthy  old  cavalier 
had  not  forgotten  the  true  Christmas  virtue  of  charity. 

On  our  way  homeward,  his  heart  seemed  overflowing  with 
generous  and  happy  feelings.  As  we  passed  over  a  rising- 
ground  which  commanded  something  of  a  prospect,  the  sounds 
of  rustic  merriment  now  and  then  reached  our  ears  ;  the  'Squire 
paused  for  a  few  moments,  and  looked  around  with  an  air  of 
inexpressible  benignity.  The  beauty  of  the  day  was  of  itself 
sufficient  to  inspire  philanthropy.  Notwithstanding  the  frosti- 
ness  of  the  morning,  the  sun  in  his  cloudless  journey  had  ac- 
quired sufficient  power  to  melt  away  the  thin  covering  of  snow 
from  every  southern  declivity,  and  to  bring  out  the  living  green 
which  adorns  an  English  landscape  even  in  mid-winter.  Large 
tracts  of  smiling  verdure  contrasted  with  the  dazzling  whiteness 
of  the  shaded  slopes  and  hollows.  Every  sheltered  bank,  on 
which  the  broad  rays  rested,  yielded  its  silver  rill  of  cold  and 
limpid  water,  glittering  through  the  dripping  grass ;  and  sent 
up  slight  exhalations  to  contribute  to  the  thin  haze  that  hung 
just  above  the  surface  of  the  earth.  There  was  something  truly 
cheering  in  this  triumph  of  warmth  and  verdure  over  the  frosty 
thraldom  of  winter  ;  it  was,  as  the  'Squire  observed,  an  emblem 
of  Christmas  hospitality,  breaking  through  the  chills  of  cere- 
mony and  selfishness,  and  thawing  every  heart  into  a  flow.  He 
pointed  with  pleasure  to  the  indications  of  good  cheer  reeking 
from  the  chimneys  of  the  comfortable  farm-houses,  and  low 
thatched  cottages.  "I  love,"  said  he,  "to  see  this  day  well 
kept  by  rich  and  poor ;  it  is  a  great  thing  to  have  one  day  in 
the  year,  at  least,  when  you  are  sure  of  being  welcome  wherever 
you  go,  and  of  having,  as  it  were,  the  world  all  thrown  open  to 
you  ;  and  I  am  almost  disposed  to  join  with  poor  Robin,  in  his 
malediction  on  every  churlish  enemy  to  this  honest  festival : 

"  Those  who  at  Christmas  do  repine, 

And  would  fain  hence  despatch  him, 
May  they  with  old  Duke  Humphry  dine, 
Or  else  may  'Squire  Ketch  catch  him." 

The  'Squire  went  on  to  lament  the  deplorable  decay  of  the 
games  and  amusements  which  were  once  prevalent  at  this  season 
among  the  lower  orders,  and  countenanced  by  the  higher  ;  when 
the  old  halls  of  the  castles  and  manor-houses  were  thrown  open 
at  daylight ;  when  the  tables  were  covered  with  brawn,  and  beef, 
and  humming  ale ;  when  the  harp  and  the  carol  resounded  all 
day  long,  and  when  rich  and  poor  were  alike  welcome  to  enter 


168  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

and  make  merry.1  "  Our  old  games  and  local  customs,"  said 
he,  "had  a  great  effect  in  making  the  peasant  fond  of  his  home, 
and  the  promotion  of  them  by  the  gentry  made  him  fond  of  his 
lord.  They  made  the  times  merrier,  and  kinder,  and  better, 
and  I  can  truly  say  with  one  of  our  old  poets, 

'  I  like  them  well  —  the  curious  preciseness 
And  all-pretended  gravity  of  those 
That  seek  to  banish  hence  these  harmless  sports, 
Have  thcust  away  much  ancient  honesty.' 

"The  nation,"  continued  he,  "is  altered;  we  have  almost 
lost  our  simple  true-hearted  peasantry.  They  have  broken 
asunder  from  the  higher  classes,  and  seem  to  think  their  inter- 
ests are  separate.  They  have  become  too  knowing,  and  begin 
to  read  newspapers,  listen  to  alehouse  politicians,  and  talk  of 
reform.  I  think  one  mode  to  keep  them  in  good-humor  in  these 
hard  times,  would  be  for  the  nobility  and  gentry  to  pass  more 
time  on  their  estates,  mingle  more  among  the  country  people, 
and  set  the  merry  old  English  games  going  again." 

Such  was  the  good  'Squire's  project  for  mitigating  public  dis- 
content :  and,  indeed,  he  had  once  attempted  to  put  his  doctrine 
in  practice,  and  a  few  years  before  he  had  kept  open  house 
during  the  holidays  in  the  old  st}Tle.  The  country  people,  how- 
ever, did  not  understand  how  to  play  their  parts  in  the  scene  of 
hospitality ;  many  uncouth  circumstances  occurred ;  the  manor 
was  overrun  by  all  the  vagrants  of  the  country,  and  more  beg- 
gars drawn  into  the  neighborhood  in  one  week  than  the  parish 
officers  could  get  rid  of  in  a  year.  Since  then  he  had  contented 
himself  with  inviting  the  decent  part  of  the  neighboring  peas- 
antry to  call  at  the  Hall  on  Christmas  day,  and  with  distributing 
beef,  and  bread,  and  ale,  among  the  poor,  that  they  might  make 
merry  in  their  own  dwellings. 

We  had  not  been  long  home,  when  the  sound  of  music  was 
heard  from  a  distance.  A  band  of  country  lads,  without  coats, 
their  shirt  sleeves  fancifully  tied  with  ribbons,  their  hats  deco- 
rated with  greens,  and  clubs  in  their  hands,  were  seen  advan- 
cing up  the  avenue,  followed  by  a  large  number  of  villagers  and 
peasantry.  They  stopped  before  the  hall  door,  where  the  music 

1  "An  English  gentleman  at  the  opening  of  the  great  day,  i.e.  on  Christmas  day  in 
the  morning,  had  all  his  tenants  and  neighbors  enter  his  hall  by  day  break.  The  strong 
beer  was  broached,  and  the  black  jacks  went  plentifully  about  with  toast,  sugar,  and 
nutmeg,  and  good  Cheshire  cheese.  The  Hackin  (the  great  sausage)  must  be  boiled  by 
day-break,  or  else  two  young  men  must  take  the  maiden  (i.e.  the  cook)  by  the  arms  and 
run  her  round  the  market  place  till  she  is  shamed  of  her  laziness."  —  Round  about  our 
Sea-Coal  Fire. 


CHRISTMAS  DAY.  169 

struck  up  a  peculiar  air,  and  the  lads  performed  a  curious  and 
intricate  dance,  advancing,  retreating,  and  striking  their  clubs 
together,  keeping  exact  time  to  the  music ;  while  one,  whimsi- 
calry  crowned  with  a  fox's  skin,  the  tail  of  which  flaunted  down 
his  back,  kept  capering  round  the  skirts  of  the  dance,  and 
rattling  a  Christmas-box  with  many  antic  gesticulations. 

The  'Squire  eyed  this  fanciful  exhibition  with  great  interest 
and  delight,  and  gave  me  a  full  account  of  its  origin,  which  he 
traced  to  the  times  when  the  Romans  held  possession  of  the 
island  ;  plainly  proving  that  this  was  a  lineal  descendant  of  the 
sword-dance  of  the  ancients.  u  It  was  now,"  he  said,  "  nearly 
extinct,  but  he  had  accidentally  met  with  traces  of  it  in  the 
neighborhood,  and  had  encouraged  its  revival ;  though,  to  tell 
the  truth,  it  was  too  apt  to  be  followed  up  by  rough  cudgel-play, 
and  broken  heads,  in  the  evening." 

After  the  dance  was  concluded,  the  whole  party  was  enter- 
tained with  brawn  and  beef,  and  stout  home-brewed.  The 
'Squire  himself  mingled  among  the  rustics,  and  was  received 
with  awkward  demonstrations  of  deference  and  regard.  It  is 
true,  I  perceived  two  or  three  of  the  younger  peasants,  as  they 
were  raising  their  tankards  to  their  mouths,  when  the  'Squire's 
back  was  turned,  making  something  of  a  grimace,  and  giving 
each  other  the  wink  ;  but  the  moment  they  caught  my  eye  they 
pulled  grave  faces,  and  were  exceedingly  demure.  With  Master 
Simon,  however,  they  all  seemed  more  at  their  ease.  His  varied 
occupations  and  amusements  had  made  him  well  known  through- 
out the  neighborhood.  He  was  a  visitor  at  every  farm-house 
and  cottage  ;  gossiped  with  the  farmers  and  their  wives  ;  romped 
with  their  daughters  ;  and,  like  that  type  of  a  vagrant  bachelor 
the  humble-bee,  tolled  the  sweets  from  all  the  rosy  lips  of  the 
country  round. 

The  bashfulness  of  the  guests  soon  gave  way  before  good 
cheer  and  affability.  There  is  something  genuine  and  affection- 
ate in  the  gayety  of  the  lower  orders,  when  it  is  excited  by  the 
bounty  and  familiarity  of  those  above  them ;  the  warm  glow  of 
gratitude  enters  into  their  mirth,  and  a  kind  word  or  a  small 
pleasantry  frankly  uttered  by  a  patron,  gladdens  the  heart  of 
the  dependant  more  than  oil  and  wine.  When  the  'Squire  had 
retired,  the  merriment  increased,  and  there  was  much  joking 
and  laughter,  particularly  between  Master  Simon  and  a  hale, 
ruddy-faced,  white-headed  farmer,  who  appeared  to  be  the  wit 
of  the  village  ;  for  I  observed  all  his  companions  to  wait  with 
open  mouths  for  his  retorts,  and  burst  into  a  gratuitous  laugh 
before  they  could  well  understand  them. 


170  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

The  whole  house  indeed  seemed  abandoned  to  merriment: 
as  I  passed  to  my  room  to  dress  for  dinner,  I  heard  the  sound 
of  music  in  a  small  court,  and  looking  through  a  window  that 
commanded  it,  I  perceived  a  baud  of  wandering  musicians,  with 
pandean  pipes  and  tambourine ;  a  pretty  coquettish  housemaid 
was  dancing  a  jig  with  a  smart  country  lad,  while  several  of 
the  other  servants  were  looking  on.  In  the  midst  of  her  sport, 
the  girl  caught  a  glimpse  of  my  face  at  the  window,  and  color- 
ing up,  ran  off  with  an  air  of  roguish  affected  confusion. 


THE  CHRISTMAS   DINNER. 

Lo,  now  is  come  our  joyful'st  feast! 

Let  every  man  be  jolly, 
Eache  roome  with  yvie  leaves  is  drest, 

And  every  post  with  holly. 
Now  all  our  neighbours'  chimneys  smoke, 

And  Christmas  blocks  are  burning; 
Their  ovens  they  with  bak't  meats  choke, 
And  all  their  spits  are  turning. 
Without  the  door  let  sorrow  lie, 
And  if,  for  cold,  it  hap  to  die, 
Wee  Me  bury  't  in  a  Christmas  pye, 
And  evermore  be  merry.  —  WITHERS'  Juvenilia. 

I  HAD  finished  my  toilet,  and  was  loitering  with  Frank  Brace- 
bridge  in  the  library,  when  we  heard  a  distant  thwacking  sound, 
which  he  informed  me  was  a  signal  for  the  serving  up  of  the 
dinner.  The  'Squire  kept  up  old  customs  in  kitchen  as  well  as 
hall ;  and  the  rolling-pin  struck  upon  the  dresser  by  the  cook, 
summoned  the  servants  to  carry  in  the  meats. 

Just  in  this  nick  the  cook  knock'd  thrice, 
And  all  the  waiters  in  a  trice 

His  summons  did  obey; 
Each  serving  man,  with  dish  in  hand, 
Marched  boldly  up,  like  our  train  band, 

Presented,  and  away.1 

The  dinner  was  served  up  in  the  great  hall,  where  the  'Squire 
always  held  his  Christmas  banquet.  A  blazing  crackling  fire 
of  logs  had  been  heaped  on  to  warm  the  spacious  apartment, 
and  the  flame  went  sparkling  and  wreathing  up  the  wide- 

1  Sir-John  Suckling. 


THE  CHRISTMAS  DINNER.  171 

mouthed  chimney.  The  great  picture  of  the  crusader  and  his 
white  horse  had  been  profusely  decorated  with  greens  for  the 
occasion ;  and  holly  and  ivy  had  likewise"  been  wreathed  round 
the  helmet  and  weapons  on  the  opposite  wall,  which  I  under- 
stood were  the  arms  of  the  same  warrior.  I  must  own,  by-the- 
by,  I  had  strong  doubts  about  the  authenticity  of  the  painting 
and  armor  as  having  belonged  to  the  crusader,  they  certainly 
having  the  stamp  of  more  recent  days ;  but  I  was  told  that  the 
painting  had  been  so  considered  time  out  of  mind ;  and  that, 
as  to  the  armor,  it  had  been  found  in  a  lumber-room,  and  ele- 
vated to  its  present  situation  by  the  'Squire,  who  at  once  deter- 
mined it  to  be  the  armor  of  the  family  hero ;  and  as  he  was 
absolute  authority  on  all  such  subjects  in  his  own  household, 
the  matter  had  passed  into  current  acceptation.  A  sideboard 
was  set  out  just  under  this  chivalric  trophy,  on  which  was  a 
displa}T  of  plate  that  might  have  vied  (at  least  in  variety)  with 
Belshazzar's  parade  of  the  vessels  of  the  temple;  "flagons, 
cans,  cups,  beakers,  goblets,  basins,  and  ewers  ;  "  the  gorgeous 
utensils  of  good  companionship  that  had  gradually  accumulated 
through  many  generations  of  jovial  housekeepers.  Before  these 
stood  the  two  yule  candles,  beaming  like  two  stars  of  the  first 
magnitude  ;  other  lights  were  distributed  in  branches,  and  the 
whole  array  glittered  like  a  firmament  of  silver. 

We  were  ushered  into  this  banqueting  scene  with  the  sound 
of  minstrelsy  ;  the  old  harper  being  seated  on  a  -stool  beside 
the  fireplace,  and  twanging  his  instrument  with  a  vast  deal 
more  power  than  melody.  Never  did  Christmas  board  display 
a  more  goodly  and  gracious  assemblage  of  countenances  ;  those 
who  were  not  handsome,  were,  at  least,  happy  ;  and  happiness 
is  a  rare  improver  of  your  hard-favored  visage.  I  always  con- 
sider an  old  English  family  as  well  worth  studying  as  a  collec- 
tion of  Holbein's  portraits,  or  Albert  Durer's  prints.  There 
is  much  antiquarian  -  lore  to  be  acquired ;  much  knowledge  of 
the  physiognomies  of  former  times.  Perhaps  it  may  be  from 
having  continually  before  their  eyes  those  rows  of  old  family 
portraits,  with  which  the  mansions  of  this  country  are  stocked  ; 
certain  it  is,  that  the  quaint  features  of  antiquity  are  often 
most  faithfully  perpetuated  in  these  ancient  lines ;  and  I  have 
traced  an  old  family  nose  through  a  whole  picture-gallery, 
legitimately  handed  down  from  generation  to  generation,  almost 
from  the  time  of  the  Conquest.  Something  of  the  kind  was  to 
be  observed  in  the  worthy  company  around  me.  Many  of  their 
faces  had  evidently  originated  in  a  Gothic  age,  and  been  merely 
copied  by  succeeding  generations ;  and  there  was  one  little  girlj 


172  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

in  particular,  of  staid  demeanor,  with  a  high  Roman  nose,  and 
an  antique  vinegar  aspect,  who  was  a  great  favorite  of  the 
'Squire's,  being,  as  he  said,  a  Bracebridge  all  over,  and  the  very 
counterpart  of  one  of  his  ancestors  who  figured  in  the  court 
of  Henrx  VIII. 

The  parson  said  grace,  which  was  not  a  short  familiar  one, 
such  as  is  commonly  addressed  to  the  Deity  in  these  unceremo- 
nious days  ;  but  a  long,  courtly,  well-worded  one  of  the  ancient 
school.  There  was  now  a  pause,  as  if  something  was  expected  ; 
when  suddenly  the  butler  entered  the  hall  with  some  degree  of 
bustle  ;  he  was  attended  by  a  servant  on  each  side  with  a  large 
wax-light,  and  bore  a  silver  dish,  on  which  was  an  enormous 
pig's  head,  decorated  with  rosemary,  with  a  lemon  in  its  mouth, 
which  was  placed  with  great  formality  at  the  head  of  the  table. 
The  moment  this  pageant  made  its  appearance,  the  harper 
struck  up  a  flourish;  at  the  conclusion  of  which  the  young 
Oxonian,  on  receiving  a  hint  from  the  'Squire,  gave,  with  an 
air  of  the  most  comic  gravity,  an  old  carol,  the  first  verse  of 
which  was  as  follows  : 

Caput  apri  defero 

Reddens  laudes  Domino. 
The  boar's  head  in  hand  bring  I, 
With  garlands  gay  and  rosemary. 
I  pray  you  all  synge  merrily 

Qui  estis  in  couvivio. 

Though  prepared  to  witness  many  of  these  little  eccentrici- 
ties, from  being  apprised  of  the  peculiar  hobby  of  mine  host ; 
yet,  I  confess,  the  parade  with  which  so  odd  a  dish  was  intro- 
duced somewhat  perplexed  me,  until  I  gathered  from  the  con- 
versation of  the  'Squire  and  the  parson,  that  it  was  meant  to 
represent  the  bringing  in  of  the  boar's  head  —  a  dish  formerly 
served  up  with  much  ceremony,  and  the  sound  of  minstrels}1 
and  song,  at  great  tables  on  Christmas  day.  "I  like  the  old 
custom,"  said  the  'Squire,  "  not  merel}'  because  it  is  stately 
and  pleasing  in  itself,  but  because  it  was  observed  at  the  col- 
lege at  Oxford,  at  which  I  was  educated.  When  I  hear  the 
old  song  chanted,  it  brings  to  mind  the  time  when  I  was  young 
and  gamesome  —  and  the  noble  old  college  hall  —  and  my  fel- 
low-students loitering  about  in  their  black  gowns ;  many  of 
whom,  poor  lads,  are  now  in  their  graves !  " 

The  parson,  however,  whose  mind  was  not  haunted  by  such 
associations,  and  who  was  always  more  taken  up  with  the  text 
than  the  sentiment,  objected  to  the  Oxonian's  version  of  the 


THE  CHRISTMAS  DINNER.  173 

carol ;  which  he  affirmed  was  different  from  that  sung  at  col- 
lege. He  went  on,  with  the  dry  perseverance  of  a  commenta- 
tor, to  give  the  college  reading,  accompanied  by  sundry  annota- 
tions ;  addressing  himself  at  first  to  the  company  at  large  ;  but 
finding  their  attention  gradually  diverted  to'  other  talk,  and 
other  objects,  he  lowered  his  tone  as  his  number  of  auditors 
diminished,  until  he  concluded  his  remarks  in  an  under  voice, 
to  a  fat-headed  old  gentleman  next  him,  who  was  silently  en- 
gaged in  the  discussion  of  a  huge  plate-full  of  turkey.1 

The  table  was  literally  16aded  with  good  cheer,  and  presented 
an  epitome  of  country  abundance,  in  this  season  of  overflowing 
larders.  A  distinguished  post  was.  allotted  to  "ancient  sir- 
loin," as  mine  host  termed  it ;  being,  as  he  added.  "  the  stand- 
ard of  old  English  hospitality,  and  a  joint  of  goodly  presence, 
and  full  of  expectation."  There  were  several  dishes  quaintly 
decorated,  and  which  had  evidently  something  traditional  in 
their  embellishments  ;  but  about  which,  as  I  did  not  like  to 
appear  over-curious,  I  asked  no  questions. 

I  could  not,  however,  but  notice  a  pie,  magnificently  deco- 
rated with  peacocks'  feathers,  in  imitation  of  the  tail  of  that 
bird,  which  overshadowed  a  considerable  tract  of  the  table. 
This,  the  'Squire  confessed,  with  some  little  hesitation,  was  a 
pheasant  pie,  though  a  peacock  pie  was  certainly  the  most 
authentical;  but  there  had  been  such  a  mortality  among  the 
peacocks  this  season,  that  he  could  not  prevail  upon  himself  to 
have  one  killed.2 

1  The  old  ceremony  of  serving  up  the  boar's  head  on  Christmas  day,  is  still  observed 
in  the  hall  of  Queen's  College,  Oxford.    I  was  favored  by  the  parson  with  a  copy  of  the 
carol  as  now  sung,  and  as  it  may  be  acceptable  to  such  of  my  readers  as  are  curious  in 
these  grave  and  learned  matters,  I  give  it  entire  : 

The  boar's  head  in  hand  bear  I, 
Bedeck'd  with  bays  and  rosemary; 
And  I  pray  you,  my  masters,  be  merry, 
Quot  estis  in  convivio. 

Caput  apri  defero, 

Reddens  laudes  Domino. 

The  boar's  head,  as  I  understand, 
Is  the  rarest  dish  in  all  this  land, 
Which  thus  bedeck'd  with  a  gay  garland 
Let  us  servire  cantico. 
Caput  apri  defero,  etc. 

Our  steward  hath  provided  this 
In  honour  of  the  King  of  Bliss, 
Which  on  this  day  to  be  served  is 
In  Reginensi  Atrio. 
Caput  apri  defero, 
etc.,  etc.,  etc 

2  The  peacock  was  anciently  in  great  demand  for  stately  entertainments.     Sometimes 
it  was  made  into  a  pie,  at  one  end  of  which  the  head  appeared  above  the  crust  in  all  its 


174  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

It  would  be  tedious,  perhaps,  to  my  wiser  readers,  who  may 
not  have  that  foolish  fondness  for  odd  and  obsolete  things  to 
which  I  am  a  little  given,  were  I  to  mention  the  other  make- 
shifts of  this  worthy  old  humorist,  by  which  he  was  endeavor- 
ing to  follow  up,  though  at  humble  distance,  the  quaint  cus- 
toms of  antiquity.  I  was  pleased,  however,  to  see  the  respect 
shown  to  his  whims  by  his  children  and  relatives ;  who,  in- 
deed, entered  readily  into  the  full  spirit  of  them,  and  seemed 
all  well  versed  in  their  parts  ;  having  doubtless  been  present  at 
many  a  rehearsal.  I  was  amused,  too,  at  the  air  of  profound 
gravity  with  which,  the  butler  and  other  servants  executed  the 
duties  assigned  them,  however  eccentric.  They  had  an  old- 
fashioned  look ;  having,  for  the  most  part,  been  brought  up  in 
the  household,  and  grown  into  keeping  with  the  antiquated  man- 
sion, and  the  humors  of  its  lord ;  and  most  probably  looked 
upon  all  his  whimsical  regulations  as  the  established  laws  of 
honorable  housekeeping. 

When  the  cloth  was  removed,  the  butler  brought  in  a  huge 
silver  vessel,  of  rare  and  curious  workmanship,  which  he 
placed  before  the  'Squire.  Its  appearance  was  hailed  with 
acclamation  ;  being  the  Wassail  Bowl,  so  renowned  in  Christ- 
mas festivity.  The  contents  had  been  prepared  by  the  'Squire 
himself ;  for  it  was  a  beverage,  in  the  skilful  mixture  of  which 
he  particularly  prided  himself :  alleging  that  it  was  too  ab- 
struse and  complex  for  the  comprehension  of  an  ordinary  ser- 
vant. It  was  a  potation,  indeed,  that  might  well  make  the 
heart  of  a  toper  leap  within  him ;  being  composed  of  the  rich- 
est and  raciest  wines,  highly  spiced  and  sweetened,  with  roasted 
apples  bobbing  about  the  surface.1 

plumage,  with  the  beak  richly  gilt;  at  the  other  end  th'e  tail  was  displayed.  Such  pies 
were  served  up  at  the  solemn  banquets  of  chivalry,  when  Knights-errant  pledged  them- 
selves to  undertake  any  perilous  enterprise,  whence  came  the  ancient  oath,  used  by  Jus- 
tice Shallow,  "  by  cock  and  pie." 

The  peacock  was  also  an  important  dish  for  the  Christmas  feast,  and  Massinger,  in 
his  City  Madam,  gives  some  idea  of  the  extravagance  with  which  this,  as  well  as  other 
dishes,  was  prepared  for  the  gorgeous  revels  of  the  olden  times  : 
Men  may  talk  of  Country  Christmasses. 

Their  thirty  pound  butter'd  eggs,  their  pies  of  carps'  tongues : 
Their  pheasants  drench'd  with  ambergris;  the  carcases  of  three  fat  wethers  bruised 

for  gravy  to  make  sauce  for  a  single  peacock  ! 

1  The  Wassail  Bowl  was  sometimes  composed  of  ale  instead  of  wine;  with  nut- 
meg, sugar,  toast,  ginger,  and  roasted  crabs;  in  this  way  the  nut-brown  beverage  is  still 
prepared  in  some  old  families,  and  round  the  hearths  of  substantial  farmers  at 
Christmas.  It  is  also  called  Lamb's  Wool,  and  is  celebrated  by  Herrick  ia  Ms  Twelfth 
Night : 

Next  crowne  the  bowle  full 
With  gentle  Lamb's  Wool, 
Add  sugar,  nutmeg,  and  ginger, 
With  store  of  ale  too; 
And  thus  ye  must  doe 
To  make  the  Wassaile  a  swinger. 


THE  CHRISTMAS  DINNER.  175 

The  old  gentleman's  whole  countenance  beamed  with  a  serene 
look  of  indwelling  delight,  as  he  stirred  this  mighty  bowl. 
Having  raised  it  to  his  lips,  with  a  hearty  wish  of  a  merry 
Christmas  to  all  present,  he  sent  it  brimming  round  the  board, 
for  every  one  to  follow  his  example  according  to  the  primitive 
style;  pronouncing  it  "the  ancient  fountain  of  good  feeling, 
where  all  hearts  met  together."  l 

There  was  much  laughing  and  rallying,  as  the  honest  emblem 
of  Christmas  joviality  circulated,  and  was  kissed  rather  coyly 
by  the  ladies.  When  it  reached  Master  Simon,  he  raised  it 
in  both  hands,  and  with  the  air  of  a  boon  companion,  struck  up 
an  old  Wassail  Chanson  : 

The  brown  bowle, 

The  merry  browii  bowle, 

As  it  goes  round  about-a, 

Fill 

Still, 

Let  the  world  say  what  it  will, 
And  drink  your  fill  all  out-a. 

The  deep  canne, 

The  merry  deep  canne, 

As  thou  dost  freely  quaff -a, 

Sing 

Fling, 

Be  as  merry  as  a  king, 
And  sound  a  lusty  laugh-a.2 

Much  of  the  conversation  during  dinner  turned  upon  family 
topics,  to  which  I  was  a  stranger.  There  was,  however,  a  great 
deal  of  rallying  of  Master  Simon  about  some  gay  widow,  with 
whom  he  was  accused  of  having  a  flirtation.  This  attack  was 
commenced  by  the  ladies  ;  but  it  was  continued  throughout  the 
dinner  by  the  fat-headed  old  gentleman  next  the  parson,  with 
the  persevering  assiduity  of  a  slow  hound ;  being  one  of  those 
long-winded  jokers,  who,  though  rather  dull  at  starting  game, 
are  unrivalled  for  their  talents  in  hunting  it  down.  At  every 
pause  in  the  general  conversation,  he  renewed  his  bantering  in 
pretty  much  the  same  terms :  winking  hard  at  me  with  both 
eyes,  whenever  he  gave  Master  Simon  what  he  considered  a 
home  thrust.  The  latter,  indeed,  seemed  fond  of  being  teased 

1  "  The  custom  of  drinking  out  of  the  same  cup  gave  place  to  each  having  his  cup. 
When  the  steward  came  to  the  doore  with   the  Wassel,  he  was  to  cry  three  times, 
Wassel,    Wassel,    Wassel,  and    then    the  chappell  (chaplain)    was    to  answer  with  a 
song."—  Archce.ologia. 

2  From  Poor  Robin's  Almanack. 


176  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

on  the  subject,  as  old  bachelors  are  apt  to  be ;  and  he  took 
occasion  to  inform  me,  in  an  under- tone,  that  the  lady  in 
question  was  a  prodigiously  fine  woman  and  drove  her  own 
curricle. 

The  dinner-time  passed  away  in  this  flow  of  innocent  hilarity, 
and  though  the  old  hall  may  have  resounded  in  its  time  with 
many  a  scene  of  broader  rout  and  revel,  yet  I  doubt  whether  it 
ever  witnessed  more  honest  and  genuine  enjoyment.  How  easy 
it  is  for  one  benevolent  being  to  diffuse  pleasure  around  him ; 
and  how  truly  is  a  kind  heart  a  fountain  of  gladness,  making 
every  thing  in  its  vicinity  to  freshen  into  smiles  !  The  joyous 
disposition  of  the  worthy  'Squire  was  perfectly  contagious;  he 
was  happy  himself,  and  disposed  to  make  all  the  world  happy ; 
and  the  little  eccentricities  of  his  humor  did  but  season,  in  a 
manner,  the  sweetness  of  his  philanthropy. 

When  the  ladies  had  retired,  the  conversation,  as  usual,  be- 
came still  more  animated :  many  good  things  were  broached 
which  had  been  thought  of  during  dinner,  but  which  would  not 
exactly  do  for  a  lady's  ear;  and  though  I  cannot  positively 
affirm  that  there  was  much  wit  uttered,  yet  I  have  certainly 
heard  many  contests  of  rare  wit  produce  much  less  laughter. 
Wit,  after  all,  is  a  mighty  tart,  pungent  ingredient,  and  much 
too  acid  for  some  stomachs ;  but  honest  good-humor  is  the  oil 
and  wine  of  a  merry  meeting,  and  there  is  no  jovial  companion- 
ship equal  to  that,  where  the  jokes  are  rather  small  and  the 
laughter  abundant. 

The  'Squire  told  several  long  stories  of  early  college  pranks 
and  adventures,  in  some  of  which  the  parson  had  been  a  sharer  ; 
though  in  looking  at  the  latter,  it  required  some  effort  of  imagi- 
nation to  figure  such  a  little  dark  anatomy  of  a  man,  into  the 
perpetrator  of  a  madcap  gambol.  Indeed,  the  two  college 
chums  presented  pictures  of  what  men  may  be  made  by  their 
different  lots  in  life :  the  'Squire  had  left  the  university  to  live 
lustily  on  his  paternal  domains,  in  the.  vigorous  enjoyment  of 
prosperity  and  sunshine,  and  had  flourished  on  to  a  hearty  and 
florid  old  age ;  whilst  the  poor  parson,  on  the  contrary,  had 
dried  and  withered  away,  among  dusty  tomes,  in  the  silence 
and  shadows  of  his  study.  Still  there  seemed  to  be  a  spark  of 
almost  extinguished  fire,  feebly  glimmering  in  the  bottom  of 
his  soul ;  and,  as  the  'Squire  hinted  at  a  sly  story  of  the  parson 
and  a  pretty  milk-maid  whom  the}'  once  met  on  the  banks  of 
the  Isis,  the  old  gentleman  made  an  "  alphabet  of  faces,"  which, 
as  far  as  I  could  decipher  his  physiognomy,  I  verily  believe  was 
indicative  of  laughter  ;  —  indeed,  I  have  rarely  met  with  an  old 


THE  CHRISTMAS  DINNER.  177 

gentleman  that  took  absolute  offence  at  the  imputed  gallantries 
of  his  youth. 

I  found  the  tide  of  wine  and  wassail  fast  gaining  on  the  dry 
land  of  sober  judgment.  The  company  grew  merrier  and 
louder,  as  their  jokes  grew  duller.  Master  Simon  was  in  as 
chirping  a  humor  as  a  grasshopper  filled  with  dew ;  his  old 
songs  grew  of  a  warmer  complexion,  and  he  began  to  talk 
maudlin  about  the  widow.  He  even  gave  a  long  song  about 
the  wooing  of  a  widow,  which  he  informed  me  he  had  gathered 
from  an  excellent  black-letter  work  entitled  "  Cupid's  Solicitor 
for  Love  ;  "  containing  store  of  good  advice  for  bachelors,  and 
which  he  promised  to  lend  me  ;  the  first  verse  was  to  this  effect  : 

He  that  will  woo  a  widow  must  not  dally, 
He  must  make  hay  while  the  sun  doth  shine; 

He  must  not  stand  with  her,  shall  I,  shall  I, 
But  boldly  say,  Widow,  thou  must  be  mine. 

This  song  inspired  the  fat-headed  old  gentleman,  who  made 
several  attempts  to  tell  a  rather  broad  story  of  Joe  Miller,  that 
was  pat  to  the  purpose ;  but  he  always  stuck  in  the  middle, 
everybody  recollecting  the  latter  part  excepting  himself.  The 
parson,  too,  began  to  show  the  effects  of  good  cheer,  having 
gradually  settled  down  into  a  doze,  and  his  wig  sitting  most 
suspiciously  on  one  side.  Just  at  this  juncture  we  were  sum- 
moned to  the  drawing-room,  and  I  suspect,  at  the  private  insti- 
gation of  mine  host,  whose  joviality  seemed  always  tempered 
with  a  proper  love  of  decorum. 

After  the  dinner-table  was  removed,  the  hall  was  given  up  to 
the  younger  members  of  the  family,  who,  prompted  to  all  kind 
of  noisy  mirth  by  the  Oxonian  and  Master  Simon,  made  its  old 
walls  ring  with  their  merriment,  as  they  played  at  romping 
games.  I  delight  in  witnessing  the  gambols  of  children,  and 
particularly  at  this  happy  holiday  season,  and  could  not  help 
stealing  out  of  the  drawing-room  on  hearing  one  of  their  peals 
of  laughter.  I  found  them  at  the  game  of  blind-man's-buff. 
Master  Simon,  who  was  the  leader  of  their  revels,  and  seemed 
on  all  occasions  to  fulfil  the  office  of  that  ancient  potentate,  the 
Lord  of  Misrule,1  was  blinded  in  the  midst  of  the  hall.  The 
little  beings  were  as  busy  about  him  as  the  mock  fairies  about 
Falstaff ;  pinching  him,  plucking  at  the  skirts  of  his  coat,  and 
tickling  him  with  straws.  One  fine  blue-eyed  girl  of  about  thir- 

1  At  Christmasse  there  was  in  the  Kinges  house,  wheresoever  hee  was  lodged,  a 
lorde  of  misrule,  or  may ster  of  merie  disporles,  and  the  like  had  ye  in  the  house  of 
every  nobleman  of  honour;  or  good  worshippe,  were  he  spirituall  or  temporall. — STOWE. 


178  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

teen,  with  her  flaxen  hair  all  in  beautiful  confusion,  her  frolic 
face  in  a  glow,  her  frock  half  torn  off  her  shoulders,  a  complete 
picture  of  a  romp,  was  the  chief  tormentor ;  and  from  the  shy- 
ness with  which  Master  Simon  avoided  the  smaller  game,  and 
hemmed  this  wild  little  nymph  in  corners,  and  obliged  her  to 
jump  shrieking  over  chairs,  I  suspected  the  rogue  of  being  not 
a  whit  more  blinded  than  was  convenient. 

When  I  returned  to  the  drawing-room,  I  found  the  company 
seated  round  the  fire,  listening  to  the  parson,  who  was  deeply 
ensconced  in  a  high-backed  oaken  chair,  the  work  of  some 
cunning  artificer  of  yore,  which  had  been  brought  from  the 
library  for  his  particular  accommodation.  From  this  vener- 
able piece  of  furniture,  with  which  his  shadowy  figure  and 
dark  weazen  face  so  admirably  accorded,  he  was  dealing  out 
strange  accounts  of  the  popular  superstitions  and  legends  of  the 
surrounding  country,  with  which  he  had  become  acquainted  in 
the  course  of  his  antiquarian  researches.  I  am  half  inclined 
to  think  that  the  old  gentleman  was  himself  somewhat  tinc- 
tured with  superstition,  as  men  are  very  apt  to  be,  who  live  a 
recluse  and  studious  life  in  a  sequestered  part  of  the  country, 
and  pore  over  black-letter  tracts,  so  often  filled  with  the  mar- 
vellous and  supernatural.  He  gave  us  several  anecdotes  of  the 
fancies  of  the  neighboring  peasantry,  concerning  the  effigy  of 
the  crusader,  which  lay  on  the  tomb  by  the  church  altar.  As 
it  was  the  only  monument  of  the  kind  in  that  part  of  the  coun- 
try, it  had  always  been  regarded  with  feelings  of  superstition 
by  the  good  wives  of  the  village.  It  was  said  to  get  up  from 
the  tomb  and  walk  the  rounds  of  the  churchyard  in  stormy 
nights,  particularly  when  it  thundered :  and  one  old  woman 
whose  cottage  bordered  on  the  churchyard,  had  seen  it  through 
the  windows  of  the  church,  when  the  moon  shone,  slowly  pa- 
cing up  and  down  the  aisles.  It  was  the  belief  that  some  wrong 
had  been  left  unredressed  by  the  deceased,  or  some  treasure 
hidden,  which  kept  the  spirit  in  a  state  of  trouble  and  restless- 
ness. Some  talked  of  gold  and  jewels  buried  in  the  tomb,  over 
which  the  spectre  kept  watch;  and  there  was  a  story  current 
of  a  sexton,  in  old  times,  who  endeavored  to  break  his  way  to 
the  coffin  at  night ;  but  just  as  he  reached  it,  received  a  violent 
blow  from  the  marble  hand  of  the  effigy,  which  stretched  him 
senseless  on  the  pavement.  These  tales  were  often  laughed 
at  by  some  of  the  sturdier  among  the  rustics ;  yet  when  night 
came  on,  there  were  many  of  the  stoutest  unbelievers  that 
were  shy  of  venturing  alone  in  the  footpath  that  led  across  the 
churchyard. 


THE  CHRISTMAS  DINNER.  179 

From  these  and  other  anecdotes  that  followed,  the  crusader 
appeared  to  be  the  favorite  hero  of  ghost  stories  throughout 
the  vicinity.  His  picture,  which  hung  up  in  the  hall,  was 
thought  by  the  servants  to  have  something  supernatural  about 
it :  for  they  remarked  that,  in  whatever  part  of  the  hall  you 
went,  the  eyes  of  the  warrior  were  still  fixed  on  you.  The  old 
porter's  wife,  too,  at  the  lodge,  who  had  been  born  and  brought 
up  in  the  family,  and  was  a  great  gossip  among  the  maid-ser- 
vants, affirmed,  that  in  her  young  days  she  had  often  heard  say, 
that  on  Midsummer  eve,  when  it  was  well  known  all  kinds  of 
ghosts,  goblins,  and  fairies  become  visible  and  walk  abroad, 
the  crusader  used  to  mount  his  horse,  come  down  from  his 
picture,  ride  about  the  house,  down  the  avenue,  and  so  to  the 
church  to  visit  the  tomb ;  on  which  occasion  the  church  door 
most  civilly  swung  open  of  itself  ;  not  that  he  needed  it  —  for 
he  rode  through  closed  gates  and  even  stone  walls,  and  had 
been  seen  by  one  of  the  dairy-maids  to  pass  between  two  bars  of 
the  great  park  gate,  making  himself  as  thin  as  a  sheet  of  paper. 

All  these  superstitions  I  found  had  been  very  much  coun- 
tenanced by  the  'Squire,  who,  though  not  superstitious  him- 
self, was  very  fond  of  seeing  others  so.  He  listened  to  every 
goblin  tale  of  the  neighboring  gossips  writh  infinite  gravity, 
and  held  the  porter's  wife  in  high  favor  on  account  of  her 
talent  for  the  marvellous.  He  was  himself  a  great  reader  of 
old  legends  and  romances,  and  often  lamented  that  he  could 
not  believe  in  them  ;  for  a  superstitious  person,  he  thought, 
must  live  in  a  kind  of  fairy  land. 

Whilst  we  were  all  attention  to  the  parson's  stories,  our  ears 
were  suddenly  assailed  by  a  burst  of  heterogeneous  sounds 
from  the  hall,  in  which  were  mingled  something  like  the  clang 
of  rude  minstrelsy,  with  the  uproar  of  many  small  voices  and 
girlish  laughter.  The  door  suddenly  flew  open,  and  a  train 
came  trooping  into  the  room,  that  might  almost  have  been 
mistaken  for  the  breaking  up  of  the  court  of  Fairy.  That  in- 
defatigable spirit,  Master  Simon,  in  the  faithful  discharge  of 
his  duties  as  lord  of  misrule,  had  conceived  the  idea  of  a 
Christmas  mummery,  or  masking ;  and  having  called  in  to 
his  assistance  the  Oxonian  and  the  young  officer,  who  were- 
equally  ripe  for  any  thing  that  should  occasion  romping  and 
merriment,  they  had  carried  it  into  instant  effect.  The  old 
housekeeper  had  been  consulted ;  the  antique  clothes-presses 
and  wardrobes  rummaged,  and  made  to  yield  up  the  relics  of 
finery  that  had  not  seen  the  light  for  several  generations  ;  the 
younger  part  of  the  company  had  been  privately  convened 


180  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

from  parlor  and  hall,  and  the  whole  had  been  bedizened  out, 
into  a  burlesque  imitation  of  an  antique  mask.1 

Master  Simon  led  the  van  as  "  Ancient  Christmas,"  quaintly 
apparelled  in  a  ruff,  a  short  cloak,  which  had  very  much  the 
aspect  of  one  of  the  old  housekeeper's  petticoats,  and  a  hat 
that  might  have  served  for  a  village  steeple,  and  must  indubi- 
tably have  figured  in  the  days  of  the  Covenanters.  From  under 
this,  his  nose  curved  boldly  forth,  flushed  with  a  frost-bitten 
bloom  that  seemed  the  very  trophy  of  a  December  blast.  He 
was  accompanied  by  the  blue-eyed  romp,  dished  up  as  "  Dame 
Mince  Pie,"  in  the  venerable  magnificence  of  a  faded  brocade, 
long  stomacher,  peaked  hat,  and  high-heeled  shoes. 

The  young  officer  appeared  as  Robin  Hood,  in  a  sporting 
dress  of  Kendal  green,  and  a  foraging  cap  with  a  gold  tassel. 

The  costume,  to  be  sure,  did  not  bear  testimony  to  deep 
research,  and  there  was  an  evident  eye  to  the  picturesque, 
natural  to  a  young  gallant  in  the  presence  of  his  mistress.  The 
fair  Julia  hung  on  his  arm  in  a  pretty  rustic  dress,  as  "  Maid 
Marian."  The  rest  of  the  train  had  been  metamorphosed  in 
various  ways.  The  girls  trussed  up  in  the  finery  of  the  ancient 
belles  of  the  Bracebridge  line,  and  the  striplings  be  whiskered 
with  burnt  cork,  and  gravely  clad  in  broad  skirts,  hanging 
sleeves,  and  full-bottomed  wigs,  to  represent  the  characters  of 
Roast  Beef,  Plum  Pudding,  and  other  worthies  celebrated  in 
ancient  maskings.  The  whole  was  under  the  control  of  the 
Oxonian,  in  the  appropriate  character  of  Misrule  ;  and  I  ob- 
served that  he  exercised  rather  a  mischievous  sway  with  his 
wand  over  the  smaller  personages  of  the  pageant. 

The  irruption  of  this  motley  crew,  with  beat  of  drum,  ac- 
cording to  ancient  custom,  was  the  consummation  of  uproar 
and  merriment.  Master  Simon  covered  himself  with  glory  by 
the  stateliness  with  which,  as  Ancient  Christmas,  he  walked  a 
minuet  with  the  peerless,  though  giggling,  Dame  Mince  Pie. 
It  was  followed  by  a  dance  of  all  the  characters,  which,  from 
its  medley  of  costumes,  seemed  as  though  the  old  family  por- 
traits had  skipped  down  from  their  frames  to  join  in  the  sport. 
Different  centuries  were  figuring  at  cross-hands  and  right  and 
left ;  the  dark  ages  were  cutting  pirouettes  and  rigadoons  ;  and 
the  days  of  Queen  Bess,  jigging  merrily  down  the  middle, 
through  a  line  of  succeeding  generations. 

The  worthy  'Squire  contemplated  these  fantastic  sports,  and 

1  Maskings  or  mummeries,  were  favorite  sports  at  Christmas,  in  old  times;  and 
the  wardrobes  at  halls  and  manor-houses  were  often  laid  under  contribution  to  furnish 
dresses  and  fantastic  disguisings.  I  strongly  suspect  Master  Simon  to  have  taken  the 
idea  of  his  from  Ben  Jousou's  Masque  of  Christmas. 


THE  CHRISTMAS   DINNER.  181 

this  resurrection  of  his  old  wardrobe,  with  the  simple  relish  of 
childish  delight.  He  stood  chuckling  and  rubbing  his  hands, 
and  scarcely  hearing  a  word  the  parson  said,  notwithstanding 
that  the  latter  was  discoursing  most  authentically  on  the  an- 
cient and  stately  dance  of  the  Pavon,  or  peacock,  from  which 
he  conceived  the  minuet  to  be  derived.1  For  nry  part  I  was  in 
a  continual  excitement  from  the  varied  scenes  of  whim  and  in- 
nocent gayety  passing  before  me.  It  was  inspiring  to  see  wild 
eyed  frolic  and  warm-hearted  hospitality  breaking  out  from 
among  the  chills  and  glooms  of  winter,  and  old  age  throwing  off 
his  apathy,  and  catching  once  more  the  freshness  of  youthful 
enjoyment.  I  felt  also  an  interest  in  the  scene,  from  the  con- 
sideration that  these  fleeting  customs  were  posting  fast  into 
oblivion,  and  that  this  was,  perhaps,  the  only  family  in  England 
in  which  the  whole  of  them  were  still  punctiliously  observed. 
There  was  a  quaintness,  too,  mingled  with  all  this  revelry,  that 
gave  it  a  peculiar  zest :  it  was  suited  to  the  time  and  place  ;  and 
as  the  old  Manor-house  almost  reeled  with  mirth  and  wassail,  it 
seemed  echoing  back  the  joviality  of  long-departed  years. 

But  enough  of  Christmas  and  its  gambols :  it  is  time  for  me 
to  pause  in  this  garrulity.  Methiuks  I  hear  the  questions  asked 
by  my  graver  readers,  "To  what  purpose  is  all  this  —  how  is 
the  world  to  be  made  wiser  by  this  talk?  "  Alas  !  is  there  not 
wisdom  enough  extant  for  the  instruction  of  the  world  ?  And 
if  not,  are  there  not  thousands  of  abler  pens  laboring  for  its 
improvement?  —  It  is  so  much  pleasanter  to  please  than  to 
instruct  —  to  play  the  companion  rather  than  the  preceptor. 

What,  after  all,  is  the  mite  of  wisdom  that  I  could  throw  into 
the  mass  of  knowledge  ;  or  how  am  I  sure  that  my  sagest  de- 
ductions may  be  safe  guides  for  the  opinions  of  others  ?  But  in 
writing  to  amuse,  if  I  fail,  the  only  evil  is  in  my  own  disappoint- 
ment. If,  however,  I  can  by  any  lucky  chance,  in  these  days 
of  evil,  rub  out  one  wrinkle  from  the  brow  of  care,  or  beguile 
the  heavy  heart  of  one  moment  of  sorrow  —  if  I  can  now  and 
then  penetrate  through  the  gathering  film  of  misanthropy, 
prompt  a  benevolent  view  of  human  nature,  and  make  my 
reader  more  in  good  humor  with  his  fellow-beings  and  himself, 
surely,  surely,  I  shall  not  then  have  written  entirely  in  vain.2 

1  Sir  John  Hawkins,  speaking  of  the  dance  called   the   Pavon,  from  pavo,  a  pea- 
cock, says,  "It  is  a  grave  and  majestic  dance;  the   method  of  dancing  it  anciently 
was  by  gentlemen  dressed  with  caps  and  swords,  by  those  of  the   long  robe  in  their 
gowns,  by  the  peers  in   their  mantles,  and   by  the  ladies  in  gowns  with   long  trains, 
the  motion  whereof,  in  dancing,  resembled  that  of  a  peacock."  —  History  of  Music. 

2  Appendix,  Note  3, 


182  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

[The  following  modicum  of  local  history  was  lately  put  into 
my  hands  by  an  odd-looking  old  gentleman  in  a  small  brown 
wig  and  snuff-colored  coat,  with  whom  I  became  acquainted  in 
the  course  of  one  of  my  tours  of  observation  through  the  centre 
of  that  great  wilderness,  the  City.  I  confess  that  1  was  a  little 
dubious  at  first,  whether  it  was  not  one  of  those  apocryphal 
tales  often  passed  off  upon  inquiring  travellers  like  myself; 
and  which  have  brought  our  general  character  for  veracity  into 
such  unmerited  reproach.  On  making  proper  inquiries,  how- 
ever, I  have  received  the  most  satisfactory  assurances  of  the 
author's  probity ;  and,  indeed,  have  been  told  that  he  is  actually 
engaged  in  a  full  and  particular  account  of  the  very  interesting 
region  in  which  he  resides,  of  which  the  following  may  be 
considered  merely  as  a  foretaste.] 

[In  the  author's  revised  edition  the  article  entitled  "  London  Antiques  "  has  been  in- 
serted  here,  and  the  above  note  has  been  replaced  by  that  on  page  293.] 

LITTLE   BRITAIN. 

"What  I  write  is  most  true  ...  I  have  a  whole  b'ooke  of  cases  lying  by  me,  which  It 
I  should  sette  foorth,  some  grave  auntients  (within  the  hearing  of  Bow  bell)  would  be 
out  of  charity  with  me.  —  NASHE. 

In  the  centre  of  the  great  City  of  London  lies  a  small  neigh- 
borhood, consisting  of  a  cluster  of  narrow  streets  and  courts, 
of  very  venerable  and  debilitated  houses,  which  goes  by  the 
name  of  LITTLE  BRITAIN.  Christ  Church  school  and  St.  Bar- 
tholomew's hospital  bound  it  on  the  west ;  Smithfield  and  Long 
lane  on  the  north ;  Aldersgate-street,  like  an  arm  of  the  sea, 
divides  it  from  the  eastern  part  of  the  city ;  whilst  the  yawning 
gulf  of  Bull-and-Mouth-street  separates  it  from  Butcher  lane, 
and  the  regions  of  New-Gate.  Over  this  little  territory,  thus 
bounded  and  designated,  the  great  dome  of  St.  Paul's,  swelling 
above  the  intervening  houses  of  Paternoster  Row,  Amen. Cor- 
ner, and  Ave-Maria  lane,  looks  down  with  an  air  of  motherly 
protection . 

This  quarter  derives  its  appellation  from  having  been,  in 
ancient  times,  the  residence  of  the  Dukes  of  Brittany.  As  Lon- 
don increased,  however,  rank  and  fashion  rolled  off  to  the  west, 
and  trade  creeping  on  at  their  heels,  took  possession  of  their 
deserted  abodes.  For  some  time,  Little  Britain  became  the 
great  mart  of  learning,  and  was  peopled  by  the  busy  and  pro- 
lific race  of  booksellers :  these  also  gradually  deserted  it, 
and,  emigrating  beyond  the  great  strait  of  New-Gate-street, 
settled  down  in  Paternoster  Row  and  St.  Paul's  Church-yard ; 


LITTLE  BRITAIN.  183 

where  they  continue  to  increase  and  multiply,  even  at  the  pres- 
ent day. 

But  though  thus  fallen  into  decline,  Little  Britain  still  bears 
traces  of  its  former  splendor.  There  are  several  houses,  ready 
to  tumble  down,  the  fronts  of  which  are  magnificently  enriched 
with  old  oaken  carvings  of  hideous  faces,  unknown  birds,  beasts 
and  fishes ;  and  fruits  and  flowers,  which  it  would  perplex  a 
naturalist  to  classify.  There  are  also,  in  Aldersgate-street, 
certain  remains  of  what  were  once  spacious  and  lordly  family 
mansions,  but  which  have  in  latter  days  been  subdivided  into 
several  tenements.  Here  may  often  be  found  the  family  of  a 
petty  tradesman,  with  its  trumpery  furniture,  burrowing  among 
the  relics  of  antiquated  finery,  in  great  rambling  time-stained 
apartments,  with  fretted  ceilings,  gilded  cornices,  and  enormous 
marble  fire-places.  The  lanes  and  courts  also  contain  many 
smaller  houses,  not  on,  so  grand  a  scale ;  but,  like  your  small 
ancient  gentry,  sturdily  maintaining*  their  claims  to  equal  an- 
tiquity. These  have  their  gable-ends  to  the  street ;  great  bow- 
windows,  with  diamond  panes  set  in  lead  ;  grotesque  carvings  ; 
and  low-arched  doorways.1 

In  this  most  venerable  and  sheltered  little  nest  have  I  passed 
several  quiet  }'ears  of  existence,  comfortably  lodged  in  the 
second  floor  of  one  of  the  smallest,  but  oldest  edifices.  My 
sitting-room  is  an  old  wainscoted  chamber,  with  small  panels, 
and  set  off  with  a  miscellaneous  array  of  furniture.  I  have  a 
particular  respect  for  three  or  four  high-backed,  claw-footed 
chairs,  covered  with  tarnished  brocade,  which  bear  the  marks 
of  having  seen  better  days,  and  have  doubtless  figured  in  some 
of  the  old  palaces  of  Little  Britain.  They  seem  to  me  to  keep 
together,  and  to  look  down  with  sovereign  contempt  upon  their 
leathern-bottomed  neighbors;  as  I  have  seen  decayed  gentry 
carry  a  high  head  among  the  plebeian  society  with  which  they 
were  reduced  to  associate.  The  whole  front  of  my  sitting-room 
is  taken  up  with  a  bow- window ;  on  the  panes  of  which  are 
recorded  the  names  of  previous  occupants  for  many  genera- 
tions ;  mingled  with  scraps  of  very  indifferent  gentleman-like 
poetry,  written  in  characters  which  I  can  scarcely  decipher ; 
and  which  extol  the  charms  of  many  a  beauty  of  Little  Britain, 
who  has  long,  long  since  bloomed,  faded,  and  passed  away. 
As  I  am  an  idle  personage,  with  no  apparent  occupation,  and 
pay  my  bill  regularly  every  week,  I  am  looked  upon  as  the 

1  It  is  evident  that  the  author  of  this  interesting  communication  has  included  in  his 
general  title  of  Little  Britain,  many  of  those  little  lanes  and  courts  that  belong  immedi- 
ately to  Cloth  Fair, 


184  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

only  independent  gentleman  of  the  neighborhood ;  and  being 
curious  to  learn  the  internal  state  of  a  community  so  apparently 
shut  up  within  itself,  I  have  managed  to  work  my  way  into  all 
the  concerns  and  secrets  of  the  place. 

Little  Britain  may  truly  be  called  the  heart's-core  of  the  city  ; 
the  strong-hold  of  true  John  Bullism.  It  is  a  fragment  of  Lon- 
don as  it  was  in  its  better  days,  with  its  antiquated  folks  and 
fashions.  Here  flourish  in  great  preservation  many  of  the 
holiday  games  and  customs  of  yore.  The  inhabitants  most 
religiously  eat  pancakes  on  Shrove-Tuesday  ;  hot-cross-buns  on 
Good-Friday,  and  roast  goose  at  Michaelmas ;  they  send  love- 
letters  on  Valentine's  Da}T ;  burn  the  Pope  on  the  Fifth  of  No- 
vember, and  kiss  all  the  girls  under  the  mistletoe  at  Christmas. 
Roast  beef  and  plum-pudding  are  also  held  in  superstitious 
veneration,  and  port  and  sherry  maintain  their  grounds  as  the 
only  true  English  wines  —  all  others  being  considered  vile  out- 
landish beverages. 

Little  Britain  has  its  long  catalogue  of  city  wonders,  which 
its  inhabitants  consider  the  wonders  of  the  world :  such  as  the 
great  bell  of  St.  Paul's,  which  sours  all  the  beer  when  it  tolls ; 
the  figures  that  strike  the  hours  at  St.  Dunstan's  clock ;  the 
Monument ;  the  lions  in  the  Tower ;  and  the  wooden  giants  in 
Guildhall.  They  still  believe  in  dreams  and  fortune-telling ; 
and  an  old  woman  that  lives  in  Bull-and- Mouth-street  makes  a 
tolerable  subsistence  by  detecting  stolen  goods,  and  promising 
the  girls  good  husbands.  They  are  apt  to  be  rendered  uncom- 
fortable by  comets  and  eclipses ;  and  if  a  dog  howls  dolefully 
at  night,  it  is  looked  upon  as  a  sure  sign  of  a  death  in  the 
place.  There  are  even  many  ghost  stories  current,  particularly 
concerning  the  old  mansion-houses  ;  in  several  of  which  it  is 
said  strange  sights  are  sometimes  seen.  Lords  and  ladies,  the 
former  in  full-bottomed  wigs,  hanging  sleeves,  and  swords,  the 
latter  in  lappets,  stays,  hoops,  and  brocade,  have  been  seen 
walking  up  and  down  the  great  waste  chambers,  on  moonlight 
nights ;  and  are  supposed  to  be  the  shades  of  the  ancient  pro- 
prietors in  their  court-dresses. 

Little  Britain  has  likewise  its  sages  and  great  men.  One  of 
the  most  important  of  the  former  is  a  tall  dry  old  gentleman, 
of  the  name  of  Skryme,  who  keeps  a  small  apothecary's  shop. 
He  has  a  cadaverous  countenance,  full  of  cavities  and  projec- 
tions ;  with  a  brown  circle  round  each  eye,  like  a  pair  of  horn 
spectacles.  He  is  much  thought  of  by  the  old  women,  who 
consider  him  as  a  kind  of  conjurer,  because  he  has  two  or  three 
stuffed  alligators  hanging  up  in  his  shop,  and  several  snakes  in 


LITTLE  BRITAIN. 


185 


bottles.  He  is  a  great  reader  of  almanacs  and  newspapers, 
and  is  much  given  to  pore  over  alarming  accounts  of  plots,  con- 
spiracies, fires,  earthquakes,  and  volcanic  eruptions  ;  which  last 
phenomena  he  considers  as  signs  of  the  times.  He  has  always 
some  dismal  tale  of  the  kind  to  deal  out  to  his  customers,  with 
their  doses,  and  thus  at  the  same  time  puts  both  soul  and  body 
into  an  uproar.  He  is  a  great  believer  in  omens  and  predic- 
tions, and  has  the  prophecies  of  Robert  Nixon  and  Mother 
Shipton  by  heart.  No  man  can  make  so  much  out  of  an  eclipse, 
or  even  an  unusually  dark  day ;  and  he  shook  the  tail  of  the 
last  comet  over  the  heads  of  his  customers  and  disciples  until 
they  were  nearly  frightened  out  of  their  wits.  He  has  lately 
got  hold  of  a  popular  legend  or  prophecy,  on  which  he  has  been 
unusually  eloquent.  There  has  been  a  saying  current  among 
the  ancient  Sibyls,  who  treasure  up  these  things,  that  when 
the  grasshopper  on  the  top  of  the  Exchange  shook  hands  with 
the  dragon  on  the  top  of  Bow  Church  steeple  fearful  events 
would  take  place.  This  strange  conjunction,  it  seems,  has  as 
strangely  come  to  pass.  The  same  architect  has  been  engaged 
lately  on  the  repairs  of  the  cupola  of  the  Exchange,  and  the 
steeple  of  Bow  Church ;  and,  fearful  to  relate,  the  dragon  and 
the  grasshopper  actually  lie,  cheek  by  jole,  in  the  yard  of  his 
workshop. 

"Others,"  as  Mr.  Skryme  is  accustomed  to  say,  u  may  go 
star-gazing,  and  look  for  conjunctions  in  the  heavens,  but  here 
is  a  conjunction  on  the  earth,  near  at  home,  and  under  our  own 
eyes,  which  surpasses  all  the  signs  and  calculations  of  astrolo- 
gers." Since  these  portentous  weathercocks  have  thus  laid 
their  heads  together,  wonderful  events  had  already  occurred. 
The  good  old  king,  notwithstanding  that  he  had  lived  eighty-two 
years,  had  all  at  once  given  up  the  ghost ;  another  king  had 
mounted  the  throne  ;  a  royal  duke  had  died  suddenly  —  another, 
in  France,  had  been  murdered  ;  there  had  been  radical  meetings 
in  all  parts  of  the  kingdom  ;  the  bloody  scenes  at  Manchester 
• — the  great  plot  in  Cato-street ;  —  and,  above  all,  the  Queen 
had  returned  to  England !  All  these  sinister  events  are  re- 
counted by  Mr.  Skryme  with  a  mysterious  look,  and  a  dismal 
shake  of  the  head ;  and  being  taken  with  his  drugs,  and  asso- 
ciated in  the  minds  of  his  auditors  with  stuffed  sea-monsters, 
bottled  serpents,  and  his  own  visage,  which  is  a  title-page  of 
tribulation,  they  have  spread  great  gloom  through  the  minds 
of  the  people  in  Little  Britain.  They  shake  their  heads  when- 
ever they  go  by  Bow  Church,  and  observe,  that  they  never 
expected  any  good  to  come  of  taking  down  that  steeple,  which, 


186  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

in  old  times,  told  nothing  but  glad  tidings,  as  the  history  of 
Whittington  and  his  cat  bears  witness. 

The  rival  oracle  of  Little  Britain  is  a  substantial  cheesemon- 
ger, who  lives  in  a  fragment  of  one  of  the  old  family  mansions, 
and  is  as  magnificently  lodged  as  a  round-bellied  mite  in  the 
midst  of  one  of  his  own  Cheshires.  Indeed,  he  is  a  man  of  no 
little  standing  and  importance  ;  and  his  renown  extends  through 
Huggin  lane,  and  Lad  lane,  and  even  unto  Aldermanbury. 
His  opinion  is  very  much  taken  in  affairs  of  state,  having  read 
the  Sunday  papers  for  the  last  half  century,  together  with  the 
Gentleman's  Magazine,  Rapin's  History  of  England,  and  the 
Naval  Chronicle.  His  head  is  stored  with  invaluable  maxims, 
which  have  borne  the  test  of  time  and  use  for  centuries.  It  is 
his  firm  opinion  that  "-it  is  a  moral  impossible,"  so  long  as 
England  is  true  to  herself,  that  any  thing  can  shake  her :  and 
he  has  much  to  say  on  the  subject  of  the  national  debt ;  which, 
somehow  or  other,  he  proves  to  be  a  great  national  bulwark 
and  blessing.  He  passed  the  greater  part  of  his  life  in  the 
purlieus  of  Little  Britain,  until  of  late  years,  when,  having  be- 
come rich,  and  grown  into  the  dignity  of  a  Sunday  cane,  he 
begins  to  take  his  pleasure  and  see  the  world.  He  has  there- 
fore made  several  excursions  to  Hampstead,  Highgate,  and 
other  neighboring  towns,  where  he  has  passed  whole  afternoons 
in  looking  back  upon  the  metropolis  through  a  telescope,  and 
endeavoring  to  descry  the  steeple  of  St.  Bartholomew's.  Not 
a  stage-coachman  of  Bull-and-Mouth-street  but  touches  his  hat 
as  he  passes  ;  and  he  is  considered  quite  a  patron  at  the  coach- 
office  of  the  Goose  and  Gridiron,  St.  Paul's  Churchyard.  His 
family  have  been  very  urgent  for  him  to  make  an  expedition  to 
Margate,  but  he  has  great  doubts  of  those  new  gimcracks  the 
steamboats,  and  indeed  thinks  himself  too  advanced  in  life  to 
undertake  sea- voyages. 

Little  Britain  has  occasionally  its  factions  and  divisions,  and 
party  spirit  ran  very  high  at  one  time,  in  consequence  of  two 
rival  "  Burial  Societies  "  being  set  up  in  the  place.  One  held 
its  meeting  at  the  Swan  and  Horse-Shoe,  and  was  patronized  by 
the  cheesemonger ;  the  other  at  the  Cock  and  Crown,  under  the 
auspices  of  the  apothecary  :  it  is  needless  to  say,  that  the  latter 
was  the  most  flourishing.  I  have  passed  an  evening  or  two  at 
each,  and  have  acquired  much  valuable  information  as  to  the 
best  mode  of  being  buried ;  the  comparative  merits  of  church- 
yards ;  together  with  divers  hints  on  the  subject  of  patent  iron 
coffins.  I  have  heard  the  question  discussed  in  all  its  bearings, 
as  to  the  legality  of  prohibiting  the  latter  on  account  of  their 


LITTLE  BRITAIN.  187 

durability.  The  feuds  occasioned  by  these  societies  have  hap- 
pily died  of  late;  but  they  were  for  a  long  time  prevailing 
themes  of  controversy,  the  people  of  Little  Britain  being  ex- 
tremely solicitous  of  funereal  honors,  and  of  lying  comfortably 
in  their  graves. 

Besides  these  two  funeral  societies,  there  is  a  third  of  quite 
a  different  cast,  which  tends  to  throw  the  sunshine  of  good- 
humor  over  the  whole  neighborhood.  It  meets  once  a  week  at 
a  little  old-fashioned  house,  kept  by  a  jolly  publican  of  the  name 
of  Wagstaff,  and  bearing  for  insignia  a  resplendent  half -moon, 
with  a  most  seductive  bunch  of  grapes.  The  old  edifice  is 
covered  with  inscriptions  to  catch  the  eye  of  the  thirsty  way- 
farer;  such  as  "Truman,  Hanbury  &  Co.'s  Entire,"  "Wine, 
Rum,  and  Brandy  Vaults,"  "  Old  Tom,  Rum,  and  Compounds, 
etc."  This,  indeed,  has  been  a  temple  of  Bacchus  and  Momus, 
from  time  immemorial.  It  has  always  been  in  the  family  of 
the  Wagstaffs,  so  that  its  history  is  tolerably  preserved  by  the 
present  landlord.  It  was  much  frequented  by  the  gallants  and 
cavalieros  of  the  reign  of  Elizabeth,  and  was  looked  into  now 
and  then  by  the  wits  of  Charles  the  Second's  day.  But  what 
Wagstaff  principally  prides  himself  upon,  is,  that  Henry  the 
Eighth,  in  one  of  his  nocturnal  rambles,  broke  the  head  of  one 
of  his  ancestors  with  his  famous  walking-staff.  This,  however, 
is  considered  as  rather  a  dubious  and  vainglorious  boast  of  the 
landlord. 

The  club  which  now  holds  its  weekly  sessions  here,  goes  by 
the  name  of  "the  Roaring  Lads  of  Little  Britain."  They 
abound  in  old  catches,  glees,  and  choice  stories,  that  are  tradi- 
tional in  the  place,  and  not  to  be  met  with  in  any  other  part  of 
the  metropolis.  There  is  a  madcap  undertaker,  who  is  inimi- 
table at  a  merry  song  ;  but  the  life  of  the  club,  and  indeed  the 
prime  wit  of  Little  Britain,  is  bully  Wagstaff  himself.  His 
ancestors  were  all  wags  before  him,  and  he  has  inherited  with 
the  inn  a  large  stock  of  songs  and  jokes,  which  go  with  it  from 
generation  to  generation  as  heir-looms.  He  is  a  dapper  little 
fellow,  with  bandy  legs  and  pot  belly,  a  red  face  with  a  moist 
merry  eye,  and  a  little  shock  of  gray  hair  behind.  At  the 
opening  of  every  club  night,  he  is  called  in  to  sing  his  "  Con- 
fession of  Faith,"  which  is  the  famous  old  drinking  trowl  from 
Gammer  Gurton's  needle.  He  sings  it,  to  be  sure,  with  many 
variations,  as  he  received  it  from  his  father's  lips ;  for  it  has 
been  a  standing  favorite  at  the  Half -Moon  and  Bunch  of  Grapes 
ever  since  it  was  written  ;  nay,  he  affirms  that  his  predecessors 
have  often  had  the  honor  of  singing  it  before  the  nobility  and 


188  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

gentry  at  Christmas  mummeries,  when  Little  Britain  was  in  all 
its  glory.1 

It  would  do  one's  heart  good  to  hear  on  a  club-night  the 
shouts  of  merriment,  the  snatches  of  song,  and  now  and  then 
the  choral  bursts  of  half  a  dozen  discordant  voices,  which  issue 
from  this  jovial  mansion.  At  such  times  the  street  is  lined 
with  listeners,  who  enjo}'  a  delight  equal  to  that  of  gazing  into 
a  confectioner's  window,  or  snuffing  up  the  steams  of  a  cook- 
shop.  ' 

There  are  two  annual  events  which  produce  great  stir  and 
sensation  in  Little  Britain  ;  these  are  St.  Bartholomew's  Fair, 
and  the  Lord  Mayor's  day.  During  the  time  of  the  Fair,  which 


1  As  mine  host  of  the  Half-Moon's  Confession  of  Faith  may  not  be  familiar  to  the 
majority  of  readers,  and  as  it  is  a  specimen  of  the  current  songs  of  Little  Britain,  I  sub- 
join it  in  its  original  orthography.  I  would  observe,  that  the  whole  club  always  join  in 
the  chorus  with  a  fearful  thumping  on  the  table  and  clattering  of  pewter  pots. 

I  cannot  eate  but  lytle  meate, 

My  stomacke  is  not  good, 
But  sure  1  thinke  that  I  can  driuke 

With  him  that  weares  a  hood. 
Though  I  go  bare  take  ye  no  care, 

I  nothing  am  a  colde, 
1  stuff  my  skyn  so  full  within, 

Of  joly  good  ale  and  olde. 
Chorus.  Backe  and  syde  go  bare,  go  bare, 

Both  foote  and  hand  go  colde, 
But  belly,  God  send  thee  good  ale  ynoughe, 

Whether  it  be  new  or  olde. 

I  have  no  rost,  but  a  nut  brawne  toste 

And  a  crab  laid  in  the  f yre ; 
A  little  breade  shall  do  me  steade, 

Much  breade  I  not  desyre. 
No  frost  nor  snow,  nor  winde  I  trowe, 

Can  hurte  mee  if  I  wolde, 
I  am  so  wrapt  and  throwly  lapt 

Of  joly  good  ale  and  olde. 
Chorus.  Backe  and  syde  go  bare,  go  bare,  etc. 

And  tyb  my  wife,  that,  as  her  lyfe, 

Loveth  well  good  ale  to  seeke, 
Full  oft  drynkes  shee,  tyll  ye  may  Bee 

The  teares  run  downe  her  cheeke. 
Then  doth  shee  trowle  to  me  the  bowle, 

Even  as  a  mault-worme  eholde, 
And  sayth,  sweete  harte,  I  took  my  parte 

Of  this  joly  good  ale  and  olde. 
Chorus.  Backe  and  syde  go  bare,  go  bare,  etc. 

Now  let  them  drynke,  tyll  they  nod  and  winke, 

Even  as  goode  fellowes  sholde  doe, 
They  shall  not  inysse  to  have  the  blisse, 

Good  ale  doth  bring  men  to. 
And  all  poore  eoules  that  have  scowred  bowles, 

Or  have  them  lustily  trolde, 
God  save  the  lyves  of  them  and  their  wives, 

Whether  they  be  yonge  or  olde. 
Chorus.  Backe  and  syde  go  bare,  go  bare,  etc. 


LITTLE  BRITAIN. 


189 


is  held  in  the  adjoining  regions  of  Smithfield,  there  is  nothing 
going  on  but  gossiping  and  gadding  about.  The  late  quiet 
streets  of  Little  Britain  are  overrun  with  an  irruption  of  strange 
figures  and  faces  ;  —  every  tavern  is  a  scene  of  rout  and  revel. 
The  fiddle  and  the  song  are  heard  from  the  tap-room,  morning, 
noon,  and  night ;  and  at  each  window  may  be  seen  some  group 
of  boon  companions,  with  half-shut  eyes,  hats  on  one  side,  pipe 
in  mouth,  and  tankard  in  hand,  fondling  and  prosing,  and  sing- 
ing maudlin  songs  over  their  liquor.  Even  the  sober  decorum 
of  private  families,  which  I  must  say  is  rigidly  kept  up  at  other 
times  among  my  neighbors,  is  no  proof  against  this  Saturnalia. 
There  is  no  such  thing  as  keeping  maid  servants  within  doors. 
Their  brains  are  absolutely  set  madding  with  Punch  and  the 
Puppet  Show ;  the  Flying  Horses ;  Signior  Polito ;  the  Fire- 
Eater  ;  the  celebrated  Mr.  Paap ;  and  the  Irish  Giant.  The 
children,  too,  lavish  all  their  holiday  money  in  toys  and  gilt 
gingerbread,  and  fill  the  house  with  the  Liliputian  din  of  drums, 
trumpets,  and  penny  whistles. 

But  the  Lord  Mayor's  day  is  the  great  anniversar}-.  The 
Lord  Mayor  is  looked  up  to  by  the  inhabitants  of  Little  Britain, 
as  the  greatest  potentate  upon  earth ;  his  gilt  coach  with  six 
horses,  as  the  summit  of  human  splendor ;  and  his  procession, 
with  all  the  Sheriffs  and  Aldermen  in  his  train,  as  the  grandest 
of  earthly  pageants.  How  they  exult  in  the  idea,  that  the  King 
himself  dare  not  enter  the  city  without  first  knocking  at  the  gate 
of  Temple  Bar,  and  asking  permission  of  the  Lord  Mayor ;  for 
if  he  did,  heaven  and  earth !  there  is  no  knowing  what  might 
be  the  consequence.  The  man  in  armor  who  rides  before  the 
Lord  Mayor,  and  is  the  city  champion,  has  orders  to  cut  down 
everybody  that  offends  against  the  dignity  of  the  city ;  and  then 
there  is  the  little  man  with  a  velvet  porringer  on  his  head,  who 
sits  at  the  window  of  the  state  coach  and  holds  the  city  sword, 
as  lon^  as  a  pike-staff  —  Od's  blood!  if  he  once  draws  that 
sword,  Majesty  itself  is  not  safe  ! 

Under  the  protection  of  this  mighty  potentate,  therefore,  the 
good  people  of  Little  Britain  sleep  in  peace.  Temple  Bar  is  an 
effectual  barrier  against  all  internal  foes  ;  and  as  to  foreign  in- 
vasion, the  Lord  Mayor  has  but  to  throw  himself  into  the 
Tower,  call  in  the  train  bands,  and  put  the  standing  army  of 
Beef-eaters  under  arms,  and  he  may  bid  defiance  to  the  world ! 

Thus  wrapped  up  in  its  own  concerns,  its  own  habits,  and 
its  own  opinions,  Little  Britain  has  long  flourished  as  a  sound 
heart  to  this  great  fungous  metropolis.  I  have  pleased  myself 
with  considering  it  as  a  chosen  spot,  where  the  principles  of 


190  TEE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

sturdy  John  Bullism  were  garnered  up,  like  seed-corn,  to  renew 
the  national  character,  when  it  had  run  to  waste  and  degeneracy. 
I  have  rejoiced  also  in  the  general  spirit  of  harmony  that  pre- 
vailed throughout  it ;  for  though  there  might  now  and  then  be 
a  few  clashes  of  opinion  between  the  adherents  of  the  cheese- 
monger and  the  apothecary,  and  an  occasional  feud  between 
the  burial  societies,  yet  these  were  but  transient  clouds,  and 
soon  passed  away.  The  neighbors  met  with  good-will,  parted 
with  a  sliake  of  the  hand,  and  never  abused  each  other  except 
behind  their  backs. 

I  could  give  rare  descriptions  of  snug  junketing  parties  at 
which  I  have  been  present ;  where  we  played  at  All-Fours, 
Pope- Joan,  Tom-come-tickle-me,  and  other  choice  old  games : 
and  where  we  sometimes  had  a  good  old  English  country  dance, 
to  the  tune  of  Sir  Roger  de  Coverley.  Once  a  year  also  the 
neighbors  would  gather  together,  and  go  on  a  gypsy  party  to 
Epping  Forest.  It  would  have  done  any  man  Is  heart  good 
to  see  the  merriment  that  took  place  here,  as  we  banqueted  on 
the  grass  under  the  trees.  How  we  made  the  woods  ring  with 
bursts  of  laughter  at  the  songs  of  little  Wagstaff  and  the  merry 
undertaker !  After  dinner,  too,  the  young  folks  would  play  at 
blindman's-buff  and  hide-and-seek  ;  and  it  was  amusing  to  see 
them  tangled  among  the  briers,  and  to  hear  a  fine  romping  girl 
now  and  then  squeak  from  among  the  bushes.  The  elder  folks 
would  gather  round  the  cheesemonger  and  the  apothecary,  to 
hear  them  talk  politics  ;  for  they  generally  brought  out  a  news- 
paper in  their  pockets,  to  pass  away  time  in  the  country.  They 
would  now  and  then,  to  be  sure,  get  a  little  warm  in  argument ; 
but  their  disputes  were  alwaj's  adjusted  by  reference  to  a  wor- 
thy old  umbrella-maker  in  a  double  chin,  who,  never  exactly 
comprehending  the  subject,  managed,  somehow  or  other,  to 
decide  in  favor  of  both  parties. 

All  empires,  however,  says  some  philosopher  or  historian, 
are  doomed  to  changes  and  revolutions.  Luxury  and  innova- 
tion creep  in  ;  factious  arise  ;  and  families  now  and  then  spring 
up,  whose  ambition  and  intrigues  throw  the  whole  system  into 
confusion.  Thus  in  latter  days  has  the  tranquillity  of  Little 
Britain  been  grievously  disturbed,  and  its  golden  simplicity  of 
manners  threatened  with  total  subversion,  by  the  aspiring  fam- 
ily of  a  retired  butcher. 

The  family  of  the  Lambs  had  long  been  among  the  most 
thriving  and  popular  in  the  neighborhood :  the  Miss  Lambs 
were  the  belles  of  Little  Britain,  and  everybody  was  pleased 
when  old  Lamb  hatt  made  money  enough  to  shut  up  shop,  and 


LITTLE  BRITAIN.  191 

put  his  name  on  a  brass  plate  on  his  door.  In  an  evil  hour, 
however,  one  of  the  Miss  Lambs  had  the  honor  of  being  a  lady 
in  attendance  on  the  Lady  Mayoress,  at  her  grand  annual  ball, 
on  which  occasion  she  wore  three  towering  ostrich  feathers  on 
her  head.  The  family  never  got  over  it ;  they  were  immedi- 
ately smitten  with  a  passion  for  high  life ;  set  up  a  one-horse 
carriage,  put  a  bit  of  gold  lace  round  the  errand-boy's  hat,  and 
have  been  the  talk  and  detestation  of  the  whole  neighborhood 
ever  since.  They  could  no  longer  be  induced  to  play  at  Pope- 
Joan  or  blindman's-buff ;  they  could  endure  no  dances  but 
quadrilles,  which  nobody  had  ever  heard  of  in  Little  Britain  ; 
and  they  took  to  reading  novels,  talking  bad  French,  and  play- 
ing upon  the  piano.  Their  brother,  too,  who  had  been  articled 
to  an  attorney,  set  up  for  a  dandy  and  a  critic,  characters 
hitherto  unknown  in  these  parts  ;  and  he  confounded  the  worthy 
folks  exceedingly  by  talking  about  Kean,  the  Opera,  and  the 
Edinburgh  Review. 

What  was  still  worse,  the  Lambs  gave  a  grand  ball,  to  which 
they  neglected  to  invite  any  of  their  old  neighbors ;  but  they 
had  a  great  deal  of  genteel  company  from  Theobald's  Road, 
Red-lion  Square,  and  other  parts  toward  the  west.  There  were 
several  beaux  of  their  brother's  acquaintance  from  Gray's-Inn 
lane  and  Hatton  Garden ;  and  not  less  than  three  Aldermen's 
ladies  with  their  daughters.  This  was  not  to  be  forgotten  or 
forgiven.  All  Little  Britain  was  in  an  uproar  with  the  smack- 
ing of  whips,  the  lashing  of  miserable  horses,  and  the  rattling 
and  jingling  of  hackney-coaches.  The  gossips  of  the  neigh- 
borhood might  be  seen  popping  their  night-caps  out  at  every 
window,  watching  the  crazy  vehicles  rumble  by  ;  and  there  was 
a  knot  of  virulent  old  cronies,  that  kept  a  look-out  from  a  house 
just  opposite  the  retired  butcher's,  and  scanned  and  criticised 
every  one  that  knocked  at  the  door. 

This  dance  was  the  cause  of  almost  open  war,  and  the  whole 
neighborhood  declared  they  would  have  nothing  more  to  say 
to  the  Lambs.  It  is  true  that  Mrs.  Lamb,  when  she  had  no 
engagements  with  her  quality  acquaintance,  would  give  little 
humdrum  tea  junketings  to  some  of  her  old  crouies,  "quite," 
as  she  would  say,  "  in  a  friendly  way  ; "  and  it  is  equally  true 
that  her  invitations  were  always  accepted,  in  spite  of  all  pre- 
vious vows  to  the  contrary.  Nay,  the  good  ladies  would  sit 
and  be  delighted  with  the  music  of  the  Miss  Lambs,  who  would 
condescend  to  thrum  an  Irish  melody  for  them  on  the  piano  ; 
and  they  would  listen  with  wonderful  interest  to  Mrs.  Lamb's 
anecdotes  of  Alderman  Plunket's  family  of  Portsokenward, 


192  TIIE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

and  the  Miss  Timber-lakes,  the  rich  heiresses  of  Crutched-Friars  ; 
but  then  they  relieved  their  consciences,  and  averted  the  re- 
proaches of  their  confederates,  by  canvassing  at  the  next  gos- 
siping convocation  every  thing  that  had  passed,  and  pulling  the 
Lambs  and  their  rout  all  to  pieces. 

The  only  one  of  the  family  that  could  not  be  made  fashion- 
able, was  the  retired  butcher  himself.  Honest  Lamb,  in  spite 
of  the  meekness  of  his  name,  was  a  rough  hearty  old  fellow, 
with  the  voice  of  a  lion,  a  head  of  black  hair  like  a  shoe-brush, 
and  a  broad  face  mottled  like  his  own  beef.  It  was  in  vain 
that  the  daughters  always  spoke  of  him  as  the  "  old  gentle- 
man," addressed  him  as  "  papa,"  in  tones  of  infinite  softness, 
and  endeavored  to  coax  him  into  a  dressing-gown  and  slippers, 
and  other  gentlemanly  habits.  Do  what  they  might,  there  was 
no  keeping  down  the  butcher.  His  sturdy  nature  would  break 
through  all  their  glozings.  He  had  a  hearty  vulgar  good-hu- 
mor, that  was  irrepressible.  His  very  jokes  made  his  sensitive 
daughters  shudder ;  and  he  persisted  in  wearing  his  blue  cotton 
coat  of  a  morning,  dining  at  two  o'clock,  and  having  a  "  bit  of 
sausage  with  his  tea." 

He  was  doomed,  however,  to  share  the  unpopularity  of  his 
family.  He  found  his  old  comrades  gradually  growing  cold 
and  civil  to  him ;  no  longer  laughing  at  his  jokes ;  and  now 
and  then  throwing  out  a  fling  at  k'  some  people,"  and  a  hint 
about  "quality  binding."  This  both  nettled  and  perplexed 
the  honest  butcher ;  and  his  wife  and  daughters,  with  the  con- 
summate policy  of  the  shrewder  sex,  taking  advantage  of  the 
circumstance,  at  length  prevailed  upon  him  to  give  up  his 
afternoon's  pipe  and  tankard  at  Wagstaff's ;  to  sit  after  dinner 
by  himself,  and  take  his  pint  of  port  —  a  liquor  he  detested  — 
and  to  nod  in  his  chair,  in  solitary  and  dismal  gentility. 

The  Miss  Lambs  might  now  be  seen  flaunting  along  the 
streets  in  French  bonnets,  with  unknown  beaux ;  and  talking 
and  laughing  so  loud,  that  it  distressed  the  nerves  of  every  good 
lady  within  hearing.  They  even  went  so  far  as  to  attempt 
patronage,  and  actually  induced  a  French  dancing-master  to 
set  up  in  the  neighborhood  ;  but  the  worthy  folks  of  Little 
Britain  took  fire  at  it,  and  did  so  persecute  the  poor  Gaul,  that 
he  was  fain  to  pack  up  fiddle  and  dancing-pumps,  and  decamp 
with  such  precipitation,  that  he  absolutely  forgot  to  pay  for  his 
lodgings. 

I  had  flattered  myself,  at  first,  with  the  idea  that  all  this 
fiery  indignation  on  the  part  of  the  community  was  merely  the 
overflowing  of  their  zeal  for  good  old  English  manners,  and 


LITTLE  BRITAIN.  193 

their  horror  of  innovation ;  and  I  applauded  the  silent  con- 
tempt they  were  so  vociferous  in  expressing  for  upstart  pride, 
French  fashions,  and  the  Miss  Lambs.  But  I  grieve  to  sa}', 
that  I  soon  perceived  the  infection  had  taken  hold  ;  and  that  rcy 
neighbors,  after  condemning,  were  beginning  to  follow  their  ex- 
ample. I  overheard  my  landlady  importuning  her  husband  to 
let  their  daughters  have  one  quarter  at  French  and  music,  and 
that  they  might  take  a  few  lessons  in  quadrille  ;  I  even  saw,  in 
the  course  of  a  few  Sundays,  no  less  than  five  French  bonnets, 
precisely  like  those  of  the  Miss  Lambs,  parading  about  Little 
Britain. 

I  still  had  my  hopes  that  all  this  folly  would  gradually  die 
away  ;  that  the  Lambs  might  move  out  of  the  neighborhood ; 
might  die,  or  might  run  away  with  attorneys'  apprentices  ;  and 
that  quiet  and  simplicity  might  be  again  restored  to  the  com- 
munity. But  unluckily  a  rival  power  arose.  An  opulent  oil- 
man died,  and  left  a  widow  with  a  large  jointure,  and  a  family 
of  buxom  daughters.  The  young  ladies  had  long  been  repining 
in  secret  at  the  parsimony  of  a  prudent  father,  which  kept  down 
all  their  elegant  aspirings.  Their  ambition  being  now  no  longer 
restrained  broke  out  into  a  blaze,  and  they  openly  took  the  field 
against  the  family  of  the  butcher.  Jt  is  true  that  the  Lambs, 
having  had  the  first  start,  had  naturally  an  advantage  of  them 
in  the  fashionable  career.  They  could  speak  a  little  bad  French, 
play  the  piano,  dance  quadrilles,  and  had  formed  high  acquaint- 
ances, but  the  Trotters  were  not  to  be  distanced.  When  the 
Lambs  appeared  with  two  feathers  in  their  hats,  the  Miss  Trot- 
ters mounted  four,  and  of  twice  as  fine  colors.  If  the  Lambs 
gave  a  dance,  the  Trotters  were  sure  not  to  be  behindhand  ;  and 
though  they  might  not  boast  of  as  good  company,  yet  they  had 
double  the  number,  and  were  twice  as  merry. 

The  whole  community  has  at  length  divided  itself  into  fash- 
ionable factions,  under  the  banners  of  these  two  families.  The 
old  games  of  Pope-Joan  and  Tom-come-tickle-me  are  entirely 
discarded ;  there  is  no  such  thing  as  getting  up  an  honest 
country-dance  ;  and  on  my  attempting  to  kiss  a  young  lady 
under  the  mistletoe  last  Christmas,  I  was  indignantly  repulsed  ; 
the  Miss  Lambs  having  pronounced  it  "  shocking  vulgar." 
Bitter  rivalry  has  also  broken  out  as  to  the  most  fashionable 
part  of  Little  Britain  ;  the  Lambs  standing  up  for  the  dignity 
of  Cross-Keys  Square,  and  the  Trotters  for  the  vicinity  of  St. 
Bartholomew's. 

Thus  is  this  little  territory  torn  by  factions  and  internal  dis- 
sensions, like  the  great  empire  whose  name  it  bears  ;  and  what 


194  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

will  be  the  result  would  puzzle  the  apothecary  himself,  with  all 
his  talent  at  prognostics,  to  determine ;  though  I  apprehend 
that  it  will  terminate  in  the  total  downfall  of  genuine  John 
Bullism. 

The  immediate  effects  are  extremely  unpleasant  to  me.  Be- 
ing a  single  man,  and,  as  I  observed  before,  rather  an  idle 
good-for-nothing  personage,  I  have  been  considered  the  only 
gentleman  by  profession  in  the  place.  I  stand  therefore  in  high 
favor  with  both  parties,  and  have  to  hear  all  their  cabinet  coun- 
cils and  mutual  backbitings.  As  I  am  too  civil  not  to  agree 
with  the  ladies  on  all  occasions,  I  have  committed  myself  most 
horribly  with  both  parties,  by  abusing  their  opponents.  I  might 
manage  to  reconcile  this  to  my  conscience,  which  is  a  truly  ac- 
commodating one,  but  I  cannot  to  my  apprehension  —  if  the 
Lambs  and  Trotters  ever  come  to  a  reconciliation,  and  com- 
pare notes,  I  am  ruined  ! 

I  have  determined,  therefore,  to  beat  a  retreat  in  time,  and 
am  actually  looking  out  for  some  other  nest  in  this  great  city, 
where  old  English  manners  are  still  kept  up ;  where  French  is 
neither  eaten,  drunk,  danced,  nor  spoken  ;  and  where  there  are 
no  fashionable  families  of  retired  tradesmen.  This  found,  I 
will,  like  a  veteran  rat,  hasten  away  before  I  have  an  old  house 
about  my  ears  —  bid  a  long,  though  a  sorrowful  adieu  to  my 
present  abode  —  and  leave  the  rival  factions  of  the  Lambs  and 
the  Trotters,  to  divide  the  distracted  empire  of  LITTLE  BRITAIN. 


STRATFORD-ON-AVON. 

Thou  soft  flowing  Avon,  by  thy  silver  stream 

Of  things  more  than  mortal  sweet  Shakspeare  would  dream; 

The  fairies  by  moonlight  dance  round  his  green  bed, 

For  hallowed  the  turf  is  which  pillowed  his  head.  —  GARRICK. 

To  a  homeless  man,  who  has  no  spot  on  this  wide  world  which 
he  can  truly  call  his  own,  there  is  a  momentary  feeling  of  some- 
thing like  independence  and  territorial  consequence,  when,  after 
a  weary  day's  travel,  he  kicks  off  his  boots,  thrusts  his  feet  into 
slippers,  and  stretches  himself  before  an  inn  fire.  Let  the  world 
without  go  as  it  may ;  let  kingdoms  rise  or  fall,  so  long  as  he 
has  the  wherewithal  to  pay  his  bill,  he  is,  for  the  time  being, 
the  very  monarch  of  all  he  surveys.  The  arm-chair  is  his 
throne,  the  poker  his  sceptre,  and  the  little  parlor,  some  twelve 


STRA  TFOED-ON-A  VON.  1 95 

feet  square,  his  undisputed  empire.  It  is  a  morsel  of  cer- 
tainty, snatched  from  the  midst  of  the  uncertainties  of  life; 
it  is  a  sunny  moment  gleaming  out  kindly  on  a  cloudy  day ; 
and  he  who  has  advanced  some  way  on  the  pilgrimage  of  ex- 
istence, knows  the  importance  of  husbanding  even  morsels  and 
moments  of  enjoyment.  "  Shall  I  not  take  mine  ease  in  mine 
inn?  "  thought  I,  as  I  gave  the  fire  a  stir,  lolled  back  in  my 
elbow-chair,  and  cast  a  complacent  look  about  the  little  parlor 
of  the  Red  Horse,  at  Stratforcl-on-Avon. 

The  words  of  sweet  Shakspeare  were  just  passing  through 
my  mind  as  the  clock  struck  midnight  from  the  tower  of  the 
church  in  which  he  lies  buried.  There  was  a  gentle  tap  at  the 
door,  and  a  pretty  chambermaid,  putting  in  her  smiling  face, 
inquired,  with  a  hesitating  air,  whether  I  had  rung.  I  under- 
stood it  as  a  modest  hint  that  it  was  time  to  retire.  My  dream 
of  absolute  dominion  was  at  an  end  ;  so  abdicating  my  throne, 
like  a  prudent  potentate,  to  avoid  being  deposed,  and  putting 
the  Stratford  Guide-Book  under  my  arm,  as  a  pillow  companion, 
I  went  to  bed,  and  dreamt  all  night  of  Shakspeare,  the  Jubilee, 
and  David  Garrick. 

The  next  morning  was  one  of  those  quickening  mornings 
which  we  sometimes  have  in  early  spring,  for  it  was  about  the 
middle  of  March.  The  chills  of  a  long  winter  had  suddenly 
given  way ;  the  north  wind  had  spent  its  last  gasp ;  and  a  mild 
air  came  stealing  from  the  west,  breathing  the  breath  of  life  into 
nature,  and  wooing  every  bud  and  flower  to  burst  forth  into  fra- 
grance and  beauty. 

I  had  come  to  Stratford  on  a  poetical  pilgrimage.  My  first 
visit  was  to  the  house  where  Shakspeare  was  born,  and  where, 
according  to  tradition,  he  was  brought  up  to  his  father's  craft 
of  wool-cornbing.  It  is  a  small,  mean-looking  edifice  of  wood 
and  plaster,  a  true  nestling-place  of  genius,  which  seems  to  de- 
light in  hatching  its  offspring  in  by-corners.  The  walls  of  its 
squalid  chambers  are  covered  with  names  and  inscriptions  in 
every  language,  by  pilgrims  of  all  nations,  ranks,  and  condi- 
tions, from  the  prince  to  the  peasant ;  and  present  a  simple,  but 
striking  instance  of  the  spontaneous  and  universal  homage  of 
mankind  to  the  great  poet  of  nature". 

The  house  is  shown  by  a  garrulous  old  lady,  in  a  frosty  red 
face,  lighted  up  by  a  cold  bine  anxious  eye,  and  garnished  with 
artificial  locks  of  flaxen  hair,  curling  from  under  an  exceed- 
ingly dirty  cap.  She  was  peculiarly  assiduous  in  exhibiting  the 
relics  with  which  this,  like  all  other  celebrated  shrines,  abounds. 
There  was  the  shattered  stock  of  the  very  matchlock  with  which 


196  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Shakspeare  shot  the  deer,  on  his  poaching  exploits.  There, 
too,  was  his  tobacco-box ;  which  proves  that  he  was  a  rival 
smoker  of  Sir  Walter  Ealeigh ;  the  sword  also  with  which  he 
played  Hamlet ;  and  the  identical  lantern  with  which  Friar  Law- 
rence discovered  Romeo  and  Juliet  at  the  tomb  !  There  was  an 
ample  supply  also  of  Shakspeare's  mulberry-tree,  which  seems 
to  have  as  extraordinary  powers  of  self-multiplication  as  the 
wood  of  the  true  cross  ;  of  which  there  is  enough  extant  to  build 
a  ship  of  the  line. 

The  most  favorite  object  of  curiosity,  however,  is  Shak- 
speare's chair.  It  stands  in  the  chimney-nook  of  a  small 
gloomy  chamber,  just  behind  what  was  his  father's  shop. 
Here  he  may  many  a  time  have  sat  when  a  boy,  watching  the 
slowly-revolving  spit,  with  all  the  longing  of  an  urchin  ;  or  of 
an  evening,  listening  to  the  cronies  and  gossips  of  Stratford, 
dealing  forth  churchyard  tales  and  legendary  anecdotes  of  the 
troublesome  times  of  England.  In  this  chair  it  is  the  custom 
of  every  one  that  visits  the  house  to  sit :  whether  this  be  done 
with  the  hope  of  imbibing  any  of  the  inspiration  of  the  bard,  I 
am  at  a  loss  to  say  ;  I  merely  mention  the  fact ;  and  my  hostess 
privately  assured  me,  that,  though  built  of  solid  oak,  such  was 
the  fervent  zeal  of  devotees,  that  the  chair  had  to  be  new-bot- 
tomed at  least  once  in  three  years.  It  is  worthy  of  notice  also, 
in  the  history  of  this  extraordinary  chair,  that  it  partakes  some- 
thing of  the  volatile  nature  of  the  Santa  Casa  of  Loretto,  or 
the  flying  chair  of  the  Arabian  enchanter ;  for  though  sold 
some  few  years  since  to  a  northern  princess,  yet,  strange  to 
tell,  it  has  found  its  way  back  again  to  the  old  chimney-corner. 

I  am  always  of  easy  faith  in  such  matters,  and  am  ever  will- 
ing to  be  deceived,  where  the  deceit  is  pleasant  and  costs  noth- 
ing. I  am  therefore  a  ready  believer  in  relics,  legends,  and 
local  anecdotes  of  goblins  and  great  men  ;  and  would  advise  all 
travellers  who  travel  for  their  gratification  to  be  the  same. 
What  is  it  to  us  whether  these  stories  be  true  or  false  so  long 
as  we  can  persuade  ourselves  into  the  belief  of  them,  and  enjoy 
all  the  charm  of  the  reality?  There  is  nothing  like  resolute 
good-humored  credulity  in  these  matters  ;  and  on  this  occasion 
I  went  even  so  far  as  willingly  to  believe  the  claims  of  mine 
hostess  to  a  lineal  descent  from  the  poet,  when,  luckily  for 
my  faith,  she  put  into  my  hands  a  plaj'  of  her  own  composition, 
which  set  all  belief  in  her  consanguinity  at  defiance. 

From  the  birthplace  of  Shakspeare  a  few  paces  brought  me 
to  his  grave.  He  lies  buried  in  the  chancel  of  the  parish  church, 
a  large  and  venerable  pile,  mouldering  with  age,  but  richly  orna- 


STRA  TFORD-ON-A  VON.  197 

merited.  It  stands  on  the  banks  of  the  Avon,  on  an  embowered 
point,  and  separated  by  adjoining  gardens  from  the  suburbs 
of  the  town.  Its  situation  is  quiet  and  retired :  the  river  runs 
murmuring  at  the  foot  of  the  churchyard,  and  the  elms  which 
grow  upon  its  banks  droop  their  branches  into  its  clear  bosom. 
An  avenue  of  limes,  the  boughs  of  which  are  curiously  inter- 
laced, so  as  to  form  in  summer  an  arched  way  of  foliage,  leads 
up  from  the  gate  of  the  yard  to  the  church  porch.  The  graces 
are  overgrown  with  grass ;  the  gray  tombstones,  some  of  them 
nearly  sunk  into  the  earth,  are  half-covered  with  moss,  which 
has  likewise  tinted  the  reverend  old  building.  Small  birds  have 
built  their  nests  among  the  cornices  and  fissures  of  the  walls, 
and  keep  up  a  continual  flutter  and  chirping ;  and  rooks  are 
sailing  and  cawing  about  its  lofty  gray  spire. 

In  the  course  of  my  rambles  1  met  with  the  gray-headed  sex- 
ton Edmonds,  and  accompanied  him  home  to  get  the  key  of  the 
church.  He  had  lived  in  Stratford,  man  and  boy,  for  eighty 
years,  and  seemed  still  to  consider  himself  a  vigorous  man,  with 
the  trivial  exception  that  he  had  nearly  lost  the  use  of  his  legs  for 
a  few  years  past.  His  dwelling  was  a  cottage,  looking  out  upon 
the  Avon  and  its  bordering  meadows ;  and  was  a  picture  of  that 
neatness,  order,  and  comfort,  which  pervade  the  humblest 
dwellings  in  this  country.  A  low  white-washed  room,  with  a 
stone  floor,  carefully  scrubbed,  served  for  parlor,  kitchen,  and 
hall.  Rows  of  pewter  and  earthen  dishes  glittered  along  the 
dresser.  On  an  old  oaken  table,  well  rubbed  and  polished,  lay 
the  family  Bible  and  prayer-book,  and  the  drawer  contained  the 
family  library,  composed  of  about  half  a  score  of  well-thumbed 
volumes.  An  ancient  clock,  that  important  article  of  cottage 
furniture,  ticked  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  room  ;  with  a  bright 
warming-pan  hanging  on  one  side  of  it,  and  the  old  man's  horn- 
handled  Sunday  cane  on  the  other.  The  fireplace,  as  usual, 
was  wide  and  deep  enough  to  admit  a  gossip  knot  within  its 
jambs.  In  one  corner  sat  the  old  man's  grand-daughter  sewing, 
a  pretty  blue-eyed  girl,  —  and  in  the  opposite  corner  was  a 
superannuated  crony,  whom  he  addressed  by  the  name  of  John 
Ange,  and  who,  I  found,  had  been  his  companion  from  child- 
hood. They  had  plaj^ed  together  in  infancy  ;  they  had  worked 
together  in  manhood ;  they  were  now  tottering  about  and  gos- 
siping away  the  evening  of  life  ;  and  in  a  short  time  they  will 
probably  be  buried  together  in  the  neighboring  churchyard.  It 
is  not  often  that  we  see  two  streams  of  existence  running  thus 
evenly  and  tranquilly  side  by  side  ;  it  is  only  in  such  quiet 
fct  bosom  scenes  "  of  life  that  they  are  to  be  met  with. 


198  THE  SKETCU-BOOK. 

I  had  hoped  to  gather  some  traditionary  anecdotes  of  the 
bard  from  these  ancient  chroniclers  ;  but  they  had  nothing  new 
to  impart.  The  long  interval,  during  which  Shakspeare's  writ- 
ings lay  in  comparative  neglect,  has  spread  its  shadow  over  his- 
tory ;  and  it  is  his  good  or  evil  lot,  that  scarcely  any  thing 
remains  to  his  biographers  but  a  scanty  handful  of  conjectures. 

The  sexton  and  his  companion  had  been  employed  as  carpen- 
ters, on  the  preparations  for  the  celebrated  Stratford  jubilee, 
and  they  remembered  Garrick,  the  prime  mover  of  the  fete,  who 
superintended  the  arrangements,  and  who,  according  to  the  sex- 
ton, was  "  a  short  punch  man,  very  lively  and  bustling."  John 
Ange  had  assisted  also  in  cutting  down  Shakspeare's  mulbeny- 
tree,  of  which  he  had  a  morsel  in  his  pocket  for  sale ;  no  doubt 
a  sovereign  quickener  of  literary  conception. 

I  was  grieved  to  hear  these  two  worthy  wights  speak  very 
dubiously  of  the  eloquent  dame  who  shows  the  Shakspeare 
house.  John  Ange  shook  his  head  when  I  mentioned  her  val- 
uable collection  of  relics,  particularly  her  remains  of  the  mul- 
berry-tree ;  and  the  old  sexton  even  expressed  a  doubt  as  to 
Shakspeare  having  been  born  in  her  house.  I  soon  discov- 
ered that  he  looked  upon  her  mansion  with  an  evil  eye. 
as  a  rival  to  the  poet's  tomb;  the  latter  having  compara- 
tively but  few  visitors.  Thus  it  is  that  historians  differ  at  the 
very  outset,  and  mere  pebbles  make  the  stream  of  truth  diverge 
into  different  channels,  even  at  the  fountain-head. 

We  approached  the  church  through  the  avenue  of  limes,  and 
entered  by  a  Gothic  porch,  highly  ornamented  with  carved  doors 
of  massive  oak.  The  interior  is  spacious,  and  the  architecture 
and  embellishments  superior  to  those  of  most  country  churches. 
There  are  several  ancient  monuments  of  nobility  and  gentry, 
over  some  of  which  hang  funeral  escutcheons,  and  banners 
dropping  piecemeal  from  the  walls.  The  tomb  of  Shakspeare  is 
in  the  chancel.  The  place  is  solemn  and  sepulchral.  Tall  elms 
wave  before  the  pointed  windows,  and  the  Avon,  which  runs  at 
a  short  distance  from  the  walls,  keeps  up  a  low  perpetual  murmur. 
A  flat  stone  marks  the  spot  where  the  bard  is  buried.  There  are 
four  lines  inscribed  on  it,  said  to  have  been  written  by  himself, 
and  which  have  in  them  something  extremely  awful.  If  they 
are  indeed  his  own,  they  show  that  solicitude  about  the  quiet  of 
the  grave,  which  seems  natural  to  fine  sensibilities  and  thought- 
ful minds : 

Good  friend,  for  Jesus'  sake,  forbeare 
To  dig  the  dust  inclosed  here. 
Blessed  be  he  that  spares  these  stones, 
Arid  curst  be  he  that  moves  my  bones. 


S  TEA  TFO  R  D-  ON- A  VON.  199 

Just  over  the  grave,  in  a  niche  of  the  wall,  is  a  bust  of  Shak- 
speare,  put  up  shortly  after  his  death,  and  considered  as  a  re- 
semblance. The  aspect  is  pleasant  and  serene,  with  a  finely 
arched  forehead ;  and  I  thought  I  could  read  in  it  clear  indi- 
cations of  that  cheerful,  social  disposition,  by  which  he  was 
as  much  characterized  among  his  contemporaries  as  by  the 
vastness  of  his  genius.  The  inscription  mentions  his  age  at 
the  time  of  his  decease  —  fifty-three  years  ;  an  untimely  death 
for  the  world :  for  what  fruit  might  not  have  been  expected 
from  the  golden  autumn  of  such  a  mind,  sheltered  as  it  was 
from  the  stormy  vicissitudes  of  life,  and  flourishing  in  the  sun- 
shine of  popular  and  royal  favor  ! 

The  inscription  on  the  tombstone  has  not  been  without  its 
effect.  It  has  prevented  the  removal  of  his  remains  from  the 
bosom  of  his  native  place  to  Westminster  Abbey,  which  was 
at  one  time  contemplated.  A  few  years  since  also,  as  some 
laborers  were  digging  to  make  an  adjoining  vault,  the  earth 
caved  in,  so  as  to  leave  a  vacant  space  almost  like  an  arch, 
through  which  one  might  have,  reached  into  his  grave.  No 
one,  however,  presumed  to  meddle  with  his  remains  so  awfully 
guarded  by  a  malediction,  and  lest  any  of  the  idle  or  the  curi- 
ous, or  any  collector  of  relics,  should  be  tempted  to  commit 
depredations,  the  old  sexton  kept  watch  over  the  place  for  two 
days,  until  the  vault  was  finished,  and  the  aperture  closed  again. 
He  told  me  that  he  had  made  bold  to  look  in  at  the  hole,  but 
could  see  neither  coffin  nor  bones ;  nothing  but  dust.  It  was 
something,  I  thought,  to  have  seen  the  dust  of  Shakspeare. 

Next  to  this  grave  are  those  of  his  wife,  his  favorite  daugh- 
ter Mrs.  Hall,  and  others  of  his  family.  On  a  tomb  close  by, 
also,  is  a  full-length  effigy  of  his  old  friend  John  Combe,  of 
usurious  memory ;  on  whom  he  is  said  to  have  written  a  ludi- 
crous epitaph.  There  are  other  monuments  around,  but  the 
mind  refuses  to  dwell  on  any  thing  that  is  not  connected  with 
Shakspeare.  His  idea  pervades  the  place  —  the  whole  pile 
seems  but  as  his  mausoleum.  The  feelings,  no  longer  checked 
and  thwarted  by  doubt,  here  indulge  in  perfect  confidence : 
other  traces  of  him  may  be  false  or  dubious,  but  here  is  palpa- 
ble evidence  and  absolute  certainty.  As  I  trod  the  sounding 
pavement,  there  was  something  intense  and  thrilling  in  the 
idea,  that,  in  very  truth,  the  remains  of  Shakspeare  were 
mouldering  beneath  my  feet.  It  was  a  long  time  before  I 
could  prevail  upon  myself  to  leave  the  place ;  and  as  I  passed 
through  the  churchyard,  I  plucked  a  branch  from  one  of  the 
yew-trees,  the  only  relic  that  I  have  brought  from  Stratford. 


200  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

I  had  now  visited  the  usual  objects  of  a  pilgrim's  devotion, 
but  I  had  a  desire  to  see  the  old  family  seat  of  the  Lucys  at 
Charlecot,  and  to  ramble  through  the  park  where  Shakspeare, 
in  company  with  some  of  the  roysters  of  Stratford,  committed 
his  youthful  offence  of  deer-stealing.  In  this  harebrained  ex- 
ploit we  are  told  that  he  was  taken  prisoner,  and  carried  to 
the  keeper's  lodge,  where  he  remained  all  night  in  doleful  cap- 
tivity. When  brought  into  the  presence  of  Sir  Thomas  Lucy, 
his  treatment  must  have  been  galling  and  humiliating ;  for  it 
so  wrought  upon  his  spirit  as  to  produce  a  rough  pasquinade, 
which  was  affixed  to  the  park  gate  at  Charlecot.1 

This  flagitious  attack  upon  the  dignity  of  the  Knight  so  in- 
censed him,  that  he  applied  to  a  lawyer  at  Warwick  to  put  the 
severity  of  the  laws  in  force  against  the  rhyming  deer-stalker. 
Shakspeare  did  not  wait  to  brave  the  united  puissance  of  a 
Knight  of  the  Shire  and  a  country  attorney.  He  forthwith 
abandoned  the  pleasant  banks  of  the  Avon,  and  his  paternal 
trade ;  wandered  away  to  London  ;  became  a  hanger-on  to  the 
theatres  ;  then  an  actor  ;  and,  finally,  wrote  for  the  stage  ;  and 
thus,  through  the  persecution  of  Sir  Thomas  Lucy,  Stratford 
lost  an  indifferent  wool-comber,  and  the  world  gained  an  im- 
mortal poet.  He  retained,  however,  for  a  long  time,  a  sense  of 
the  harsh  treatment  of  the  Lord  of  Charlecot,  and  revenged 
himself  in  his  writings ;  but  in  the  sportive  way  of  a  good- 
natured  mind.  Sir  Thomas  is  said  to  be  the  original  Justice 
Shallow,  and  the  satire  is  slyly  fixed  upon  him  by  the  Justice's 
armorial  bearings,  which,  like  those  of  the  Knight,  had  white 
luces 2  in  the  quarterings. 

Various  attempts  have  been  made  by  his  biographers  to 
soften  and  explain  away  this  early  transgression  of  the  poet ; 
but  I  look  upon  it  as  one  of  those  thoughtless  exploits  natural 
to  his  situation  and  turn  of  mind.  Shakspeare,  when  young, 
had  doubtless  all  the  wildness  and  irregularity  of  an  ardent, 
undisciplined,  and  undirected  genius.  The  poetic  temperament 
has  naturally  something  in  it  of  the  vagabond.  When  left  to 

1  The  following  is  the  only  stanza  extant  of  this  lampoon  : 

A  parliament  member,  a  justice  of  peace, 
At  home  a  poor  scarecrow,  at  London  an  asse, 
If  lowsie  is  Lucy,  as  some  volke  miscalle  it, 
Then  Lucy  is  lowsie,  whatever  befall  it, 

He  thinks  himself  great; 

Yet  an  asse  in  his  state, 
We  allow  by  his  ears  but  with  asses  to  mate. 
If  Lucy  is  lowsie,  as  some  volke  miscalle  it, 
Then  sing  lowsie  Lucy,  whatever  befall  it. 

2  The  luce  is  a  pike  or  jack,  and  abounds  in  the  Avon,  about  Charlecot. 


STRATFORD-ON-AVON.  201 

itself,  it  runs  loosely  and  wildly,  and  delights  in  every  thing 
eccentric  and  licentious.  It  is  often  a  turn-up  of  a  die,  in  the 
gambling  freaks  of  fate,  whether  a  natural  genius  shall  turn 
out  a  great  rogue  or  a  great  poet ;  and  had  not  Shakspeare's 
mind  fortunately  taken  a  literary  bias,  he  might  have  as  dar- 
ingly transcended  all  civil,  as  he  has  all  dramatic  laws. 

I  have  little  doubt,  that,  in  early  life,  when  running,  like  an 
unbroken  colt,  about  the  neighborhood  of  Stratford,  he  was  to 
be  found  in  the  company  of  all  kinds  of  odd  and  anomalous 
characters ;  that  he  associated  with  all  the  madcaps  of  the 
place,  and  was  one  of  those  unlucky  urchins,  at  mention  of 
whom  old  men  shake  their  heads,  and  predict  that  they  will 
one  day  come  to  the  gallows.  To  him  the  poaching  in  Sir 
Thomas  Lucy's  park  was  doubtless  like  a  foray  to  a  Scottish 
Knight,  and  struck  his  eager,  and  as  }-et  untamed,  imagination, 
as  something  delightfully  adventurous.1 

The  old  mansion  of  Charlecot  and  its  surrounding  park  still 
remain  in  the  possession  of  the  Lucy  family,  and  are  peculiarly 
interesting  from  being  connected  with  this  whimsical  but  event- 
ful circumstance  in  the  scanty  history  of  the  bard.  As  the 
house  stood  but  little  more  than  three  miles'  distance  from  Strat- 
ford, I  resolved  to  pay  it  a  pedestrian  visit,  that  I  might  stroll 
leisurely  through  some  of  those  scenes  from  which  Shakspeare 
must  have  derived  his  earliest  ideas  of  rural  imagery. 

The  country  was  yet  naked  and  leafless  ;  but  English  scenery 
is  always  verdant,  and  the  sudden  change  in  the  temperature 

1  A  proof  of  Shakspeare's  random  habits  and  associates  in  his  youthful  days  may 
be  found  in  a  traditionary  anecdote,  picked  up  at  Stratford  by  the  elder  Ireland,  and 
mentioned  in  his  "  Picturesque  Views  on  the  Avon," 

About  seven  miles  from  Stratford  lies  the  thirsty  little  market  town  of  Bedford, 
famous  for  its  ale.  Two  societies  of  the  village  yeomanry  used  to  meet,  under  the 
appellation  of  the  Bedford  topers,  and  to  challenge  the  lovers  of  good  ale  of  the 
neighboring  villages,  to  a  contest  of  drinking.  Among  others,  the  people  of  Strat- 
ford were  called  out  to  prove  the  strength  of  their  heads;  and  in  the  number 
of  the  champions  was  Shakspeare,  who,  in  spite  of  the  proverb,  that  "  they  who 
drink  beer  will  think  beer,"  was  as  true  to  his  ale  as  Falstaff  to  his  sack.  The 
chivalry  of  Stratford  was  staggered  at  the  first  onset,  and  sounded  a  retreat  while 
they  had  yet  legs  to  carry  them  off  the  field.  They  had  scarcely  marched  a  mile, 
when,  their  legs  failing  them,  they  were  forced  to  lie  down  under  a  crab-tree,  where 
they  passed  the  night.  It  is  still  standing,  and  goes  by  the  name  of  Shakspeare's 
tree. 

In  the  morning  his  companions  awaked  the  bard,  and  proposed  returning  to 
Bedford,  but  he  declined,  saying  he  had  had  enough,  having  drunk  with 

Piping  Pebworth,  Dancing  Marston, 
Haunted  Hilbro',  Hungry  Grafton, 
Budging  Exhiiil,  Papist  Wicksford, 
Beggarly  Broom,  and  drunken  Bedford. 

"  The  villages  here  alluded  to,"  says  Ireland,  "  still  bear  the  epithets  thus  given 
them:  the  people  of  Pebworth  are  still  famed  for  their  skill  on  the  pipe  and  tabor; 
Hillborough  is  now  called  Haunted  Hillborough;  and  Grafton  is  famous  for  the 
poverty  of  its  soil." 


202  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

of  the  weather  was  surprising  in  its  quickening  effects  upon 
the  landscape.  It  was  inspiring  and  animating  to  witness  this 
first  awakening  of  spring ;  to  feel  its  warm  breath  stealing 
over  the  senses ;  to  see  the  moist  mellow  earth  beginning  to 
put  forth  the  green  sprout  and  the  tender  blade  ;  and  the  trees 
and  shrubs,  and  their  reviving  tints  and  bursting  buds,  giving 
the  promise  of  returning  foliage  and  flower.  The  cold  snow- 
drop, that  little  borderer  on  the  skirts  of  winter,  was  to  be 
seen  with  its  chaste  white  blossoms  in  the  small  gardens  before 
the  cottages.  The  bleating  of  the  new-dropt  lambs  was  faintly 
heard  from  the  fields.  The  sparrow  twittered  about  the 
thatched  eaves  and  budding  hedges ;  the  robin  threw  a  livelier 
note  into  his  late  querulous  wintry  strain ;  and  the  lark,  spring- 
ing up  from  the  reeking  bosom  of  the  meadow,  towered  away 
into  the  bright  fleecy  cloud,  pouring  forth  torrents  of  melody. 
As  I  watched  the  little  songster,  mounting  up  higher  and 
higher,  until  his  body  was  a  mere  speck  on  the  white  bosom 
of  the  cloud,  while  the  ear  was  still  filled  with  his  music,  it 
called  to  mind  Shakspeare's  exquisite  little  song  in  Cymbeline  : 

Hark !  hark !  the  lark  at  heaven's  gate  sings, 

And  Phoebus  'gins  arise, 
His  steeds  to  water  at  those  springs, 

On  chaliced  flowers  that  lies. 

And  winking  mary-buds  begin 

To  ope  their  golden  eyes; 
With  every  thing  that  pretty  bin, 

My  lady  sweet,  arise ! 

Indeed,  the  whole  country  about  here  is  poetic  ground :  every 
thing  is  associated  witli  the  idea  of  Shakspeare.  Every  old 
cottage  that  I  saw,  I  fancied  into  some  resort  of  his  boyhood, 
where  he  had  acquired  his  intimate  knowledge  of  rustic  life  and 
manners,  and  heard  those  legendary  tales  and  wild  superstitions 
which  he  has  woven  like  witchcraft  into  his  dramas.  For  in 
his.  time,  we  are  told,  it  was  a  popular  amusement  in  winter 
evenings  "to  sit  round  the  fire,  and  tell  merry  tales  of  errant 
knights,  queens,  lovers,  lords,  ladies,  giants,  dwarfs,  thieves, 
cheaters,  witches,  fairies,  goblins,  and  friars."  l 

1  Scot,  in  his  "Discoverie  of  Witchcraft,"  enumerates  a  host  of  these  fireside 
fancies.  "And  they  have  so  fraid  us  with  bull- beggars,  spirits,  witches,  urchins, 
elves,  hags,  fairies,  satyrs,  pans,  faunes,  syrens,  kit  with  the  can  sticke,  tritons,  cen- 
taurs, dwarfes,  giantes,  imps,  calcars,  conjurers,  nymphes,  changelings,  incubus, 
Robin-good-fellow,  the  spoorne.  the  mare,  the  man  in  the  oke,  the  hellwaine,  the  fier 
drake,  the  puckle,  Tom  Thorobe,  hobgoblins,  Tom  Tumbler,  boneless,  and  such  other 
bugs,  that  we  were  afraid  of  our  own  shadowee," 


STRATFORD-ON-AVON.  203 

My  route  for  a  part  of  the  way  lay  in  sight  of  the  Avon, 
which  made  a  variety  of  the  most  fanciful  doublings  and  wind- 
ings through  a  wide  and  fertile  valley :  sometimes  glittering 
from  among  willows,  which  fringed  its  borders  ;  sometimes  dis- 
appearing among  groves,  or  beneath  green  banks ;  and  some- 
times rambling  out  into  full  view,  and  making  an  azure  sweep 
round  a  slope  of  meadow  land.  This  beautiful  bosom  of  country 
Is  called  the  Vale  of  the  Red  Horse.  A  distant  line  of  undulat- 
ing blue  hills  seems  to  be  its  boundary,  whilst  all  the  soft  inter- 
vening landscape  lies  in  a  manner  enchained  in  the  silver  links 
of  the  Avon. 

After  pursuing  the  road  for  about  three  miles,  I  turned  off 
into  a  foot-path,  which  led  along  the  borders  of  fields  and  under 
hedge-rows  to  a  private  gate  of  the  park ;  there  was  a  stile, 
however,  for  the  benefit  of  the  pedestrian  ;  there  being  a  public 
right  of  way  through  the  grounds.  I  delight  in  these  hospitable 
estates,  in  which  every  one  has  a  kind  of  property  —  at  least  as 
far  as  the  foot-path  is  concerned.  It  in  some  measure  recon- 
ciles a  poor  man  to  his  lot,  and  what  is  more,  to  the  better  lot 
of  his  neighbor,  thus  to  have  parks  and  pleasure-grounds  thrown 
open  for  his  recreation.  He  breathes  the  pure  air  as  freely, 
and  lolls  as  luxuriously  under  the  shade,  as  the  lord  of  the  soil ; 
and  if  he  has  not  the  privilege  of  calling  all  that  he  sees  his 
own,  he  has  not,  at  the  same  time,  the  trouble  of  paying  for  it. 
and  keeping  it  in  order. 

I  now  found  myself  among  noble  avenues  of  oaks  and  elms, 
whose  vast  size  bespoke  the  growth  of  centuries.  The  wind 
sounded  solemnly  among  their  branches,  and  the  rooks  cawed 
from  their  hereditary  nests  in  the  tree  tops.  The  eye  ranged 
through  a  long  lessening  vista,  with  nothing  to  interrupt  the 
view  but  a  distant  statue ;  and  a  vagrant  deer  stalking  like  a 
shadow  across  the  opening. 

There  is  something  about  these  stately  old  avenues  that  has 
the  effect  of  Gothic  architecture,  not  merely  from  the  pretended 
similarity  of  form,  but  from  their  bearing  the  evidence  of  long 
duration,  and  of  having  had  their  origin  in  a  period  of  time 
with  which  we  associate  ideas  of  romantic  grandeur.  They 
betoken  also  the  long-settled  dignity,  and  proudly  concentrated 
independence  of  an  ancient  family ;  and  I  have  heard  a  worthy 
but  aristocratic  old  friend  observe,  when  speaking  of  the  sump- 
tuous palaces  of  modern  gentry,  that  "money  could  do  much 
with  stone  and  mortar,  but,  thank  Heaven,  there  was  no  such 
thing  as  suddenly  building  up  an  avenue  of  oaks." 

It  was  from  wandering  in  early  life  among  this  rich  scenery, 


204  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

• 

and  about  the  romantic  solitudes  of  the  adjoining  park  of  Full- 
broke,  which  then  formed  a  part  of  the  Lucy  estate,  that  some 
of  Shakspeare's  commentators  have  supposed  he  derived  his 
noble  forest  meditations  of  Jaques,  and  the  enchanting  wood- 
land pictures  in  "As  you  like  it."  It  is  in  lonely  wanderings 
through  such  scenes,  that  the  mind  drinks  deep  but  quiet 
draughts  of  inspiration,  and  becomes  intensely  sensible  of  the 
beauty  and  majesty  of  nature.  The  imagination  kindles  into 
reverie  and  rapture ;  vague  but  exquisite  images  and  ideas  keep 
breaking  upon  it ;  and  we  revel  in  a  mute  and  almost  incom- 
municable luxury  of  thought.  It  was  in  some  such  mood,  and 
perhaps  under  one  of  those  very  trees  before  me,  which  threw 
their  broad  shades  over  the  grassy  banks  and  quivering  waters 
of  the  Avon,  that  the  poet's  fancy  may  have  sallied  forth  into 
that  little  song  which  breathes  the  very  soul  of  a  rural  volup- 
tuary. 

Under  the  green-wood  tree, 

Who  loves  to  lie  with  me, 

And  tune  his  merry  throat 

Unto  the  sweet  bird's  note, 

Come  hither,  come  hither,  come  hither, 

Here  shall  he  see 

No  enemy 
But  winter  and  rough  weather. 

I  had  now  come  in  sight  of  the  house.  It  is  a  large  building 
of  brick,  with  stone  quoins,  and  is  in  the  Gothic  style  of  Queen 
Elizabeth's  day,  having  been  built  in  the  first  year  of  her  reign, 
The  exterior  remains  very  nearly  in  its  original  state,  and  ma;y 
be  considered  a  fair  specimen  of  the  residence  of  a  wealthy 
country  gentleman  of  those  days.  A  great  gateway  opens  from 
the  park  into  a  kind  of  court-yard  in  front  of  the  house,  orna- 
mented with  a  grass-plot,  shrubs,  and  flower-beds.  The  gate- 
way is  in  imitation  of  the  ancient  barbican  ;  being  a  kind  of 
outpost,  and  flanked  by  towers ;  though  evidently  for  mere  or- 
nament, instead  of  defence.  The  front  of  the  house  is  com- 
pletely in  the  old  style ;  with  stone  shafted  casements,  a  great 
bow-window  of  heavy  stonework,  and  a  portal  with  armorial 
bearings  over  it,  carved  in  stone.  At  each  corner  of  the  build- 
ing is  an  octagon  tower,  surmounted  by  a  gilt  ball  and  weather- 
cock. 

The  Avon,  which  winds  through  the  park,  makes  a  bend  just 
at  the  foot  of  a  gently  sloping  bank,  which  sweeps  down  from 
the  rear  of  the  house.  Large  herds  of  deer  were  feeding  or 
reposing  upon  its  borders  ;  and  swans  were  sailing  majestically 


8  TRA  TFORD-ON-A  VON.  205 

upon  its  bosom.  As  I  contemplated  the  venerable  old  mansion, 
I  called  to  mind  Falstaff's  encomium  on  Justice  Shallow's 
abode,  and  the  affected  indifference  and  real  vanity  of  the 
latter : 

"  Falstaff.    You  have  a  goodly  dwelling  and  a  rich. 

"  Shallow.  Barren,  barren,  barren ;  beggars  all,  beggars  all,  Sir  John :  —  marry,  good 
air." 

Whatever  may  have  been  the  joviality  of  the  old  mansion 
in  the  days  of  Shakspeare,  it  had  now  an  air  of  stillness  and 
solitude.  The  great  iron  gateway  that  opened  into  the  court- 
yard was  locked  ;  there  was  no  show  of  servants  bustling  about 
the  place  ;  the  deer  gazed  quietly  at  me  as  I  passed,  being  no 
longer  harried  by  the  moss-troopers  of  Stratford.  The  only 
sign  of  domestic  life  that  I  met  with  was  a  white  cat,  stealing 
with  wary  look  and  stealthy  pace  towards  the  stables,  as  if  on 
some  nefarious  expedition.  I  must  not  omit  to  mention  the 
carcass  of  a  scoundrel  crow  which  I  saw  suspended  against 
the  barn  wall,  as  it  shows  that  the  Lucys  still  inherit  that  lordly 
abhorrence  of  poachers,  and  maintain  that  rigorous  exercise  of 
territorial  power  which  was  so  strenuously  manifested  in  the 
case  of  the  bard. 

After  prowling  about  for  some  time,  I  at  length  found  my 
way  to  a  lateral  portal,  which  was  the  every-day  entrance  to 
the  mansion.  I  was  courteously  received  by  a  worthy  old 
housekeeper,  who,  with  the  civility  and  communicativeness  of 
her  order,  showed  me  the  interior  of  the  house.  The  greater 
part  has  undergone  alterations,  and  been  adapted  to  modern 
tastes  and  modes  of  living :  there  is  a  fine  old  oaken  staircase  ; 
and  the  great  hall,  that  noble  feature  in  an  ancient  manor- 
house,  still  retains  much  of  the  appearance  it  must  have  had 
in  the  days  of  Shakspeare.  The  ceiling  is  arched  and  lofty ; 
and  at  one  end  is  a  galley,  in  which  stands  an  organ.  The 
weapons  and  trophies  of  the  chase,  which  formerly  adorned 
the  hall  of  a  country  gentleman,  have  made  way  for  family 
portraits.  There  is  a  wide  hospitable  fireplace,  calculated  for 
an  ample  old-fashioned  wood  fire,  formerly  the  rallying  place 
of  winter  festivity.  On  the  opposite  side  of  the  hall  is  the  huge 
Gothic  bow- window,  with  stone  shafts,  which  looks  out  upon 
the  court-yard.  Here  are  emblazoned  in  stained  glass  the 
armorial  bearings  of  the  Lucy  family  for  many  generations, 
some  being  dated  in  1558.  I  was  delighted  to  observe  in  the 
quarterings  the  three  white  luces  by  which  the  character  of  Sir 
Thomas  was  first  identified  with  that  of  Justice  Shallow.  They 


206  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

are  mentioned  in  the  first  scene  of  the  Merry  Wives  of  Wind- 
sor, where  the  Justice  is  in  a  rage  with  Falstaff  for  having 
"beaten  his  men,  killed  his  deer,  and  broken  into  his  lodge." 
The  poet  had  no  doubt  the  offences  of  himself  and  his  comrades 
in  mind  at  the  time,  and  we  may  suppose  the  family  pride  and 
vindictive  threats  of  the  puissant  Shallow  to  be  a  caricature  of 
the  pompous  indignation  of  Sir  Thomas. 

"  Shallow.  Sir  Hugh,  persuade  me  not :  I  will  make  a  Star-Chamber  matter  of  it;  if 
he  were  twenty  John  Falstaffe,  he  shall  not  abuse  Sir  Robert  Shallow,  Esq. 

"  Slender.    In  the  county  of  Gloster,  justice  of  peace,  and  coram. 

"  Shallow.    Ay,  cousin  Slender,  and  custalorum. 

"Slender.  Ay,  and  ratalorum  too,  and  a  gentleman  born,  master  parson;  who 
writes  himself  Armigero  in  any  bill,  warrant,  quittance,  or  obligation,  Armigero. 

"  Shallow.    Ay,  that  I  do;  and  have  done  any  time  these  three  hundred  years. 

"  Slender.  All  his  successors  gone  before  him  have  done  't,  and  all  his  ancestors  that 
come  after  him  may  :  they  may  give  the  dozen  white  luces  in  their  coat. 

"  /Shallow.    The  council  shall  hear  it;  it  is  a  riot. 

"  Evans.  It  is  not  meet  the  council  hear  of  a  riot;  there  is  no  fear  of  Got  in  a  riot  : 
the  council,  hear  you,  shall  desire  to  hear  the  fear  of  Got,  and  not  to  hear  a  riot;  take 
your  vizameuts  in  that. 

"  Shallow.    Ha!  o'  my  life,  if  I  were  young  again,  the  sword  should  end  it !  " 

Near  the  window  thus  emblazoned  hung  a  portrait  by  Sir 
Peter  Lely  of  one  of  the  Lucy  family,  a  great  beauty  of  the 
time  of  Charles  the  Second  :  the  old  housekeeper  shook  her 
head  as  she  pointed  to  the  picture,  and  informed  me  that  this 
lady  had  been  sadly  addicted  to  cards,  and  had  gambled  away 
a  great  portion  of  the  family  estate,  among  which  was  that 
part  of  the  park  where  Shakspeare  and  his  comrades  had  killed 
the  deer.  The  lands  thus  lost  had  not  been  entirely  regained 
by  the  family,  even  at  the  present  day.  It  is  but  justice  to 
this  recreant  dame  to  confess  that  she  had  a  surpassingly  fine 
hand  and  arm. 

The  picture  which  most  attracted  my  attention  was  a  great 
painting  over  the  fireplace,  containing  likenesses  of  Sir 
Thomas  Lucy  and  his  family,  who  inhabited  the  hall  in  the 
latter  part  of  Shakspeare 's  lifetime.  I  at  first  thought  that  it 
was  the  vindictive  knight  himself,  but  the  housekeeper  assured 
me  that  it  was  his  son  ;  the  only  likeness  extant  of  the  former 
being  an  effigy  upon  his  tomb  in  the  church  of  the  neighbor- 
ing hamlet  of  Charlecot.1  The  picture  gives  a  lively  idea  of  the 
costume  and  manners  of  the  time.  Sir  Thomas  is  dressed  in 
ruff  and  doublet ;  white  shoes  with  roses  in  them ;  and  has  a 
peaked  yellow,  or,  as  Master  Slender  would  say,  "a  cane- 
colored  beard."  His  lady  is  seated  on  the  opposite  side  of  the 

1  Appendix,  Note  4. 


STRA  TFOED-ON-A  VON.  207 

picture  in  wide  ruff  and  long  stomacher,  and  the  children  have 
a  most  venerable  stiffness  and  formality  of  dress.  Hounds 
and  spaniels  are  mingled  in  the  family  group  ;  a  hawk  is  seated 
on  his  perch  in  the  foreground,  and  one  of  the  children  holds  a 
bow ;  —  all  intimating  the  knight's  skill  in  hunting,  hawking, 
and  archery  —  so  indispensable  to  an  accomplished  gentleman 
in  those  days.1 

I  regretted  to  find  that  the  ancient  furniture  of  the  hall  had 
disappeared ;  for  I  had  hoped  to  meet  with  the  stately  elbow- 
chair  of  carved  oak,  in  which  the  country  'Squire  of  former 
days  was  wont  to  sway  the  sceptre  of  empire  over  his  rural 
domains  ;  and  in  which  it  might  be  presumed  the  redoubted 
Sir  Thomas  sat  enthroned  in  awful  state,  when  the  recreant 
Shakspeare  was  brought  before  him.  As  I  like  to  deck  out 
pictures  for  my  own  entertainment,  I  pleased  myself  with  the 
idea  that  this  very  hall  had  been  the  scene  of  the  unlucky 
bard's  examination  on  the  morning  after  his  captivity  in  the 
lodge.  I  fancied  to  myself  the  rural  potentate,  surrounded  by 
his  body-guard  of  butler,  pages,  and  blue-coated  serving-men 
with  their  badges ;  while  the  luckless  culprit  was  brought  in, 
forlorn  and  chopfallen,  in  the  custody  of  game-keepers,  hunts- 
men, and  whippers-in,  and  followed  by  a  rabble  rout  of  country 
clowns.  I  fancied  bright  faces  of  curious  house-maids  peeping 
from  the  half-opened  doors ;  while  from  the  gallery  the  fair 
daughters  of  the  Knight  leaned  gracefully  forward,  eying 
the  youthful  prisoner  with  that  pity  "that  dwells  in  woman- 
hood."—  Who  would  have  thought  that  this  poor  varlet,  thus 
trembling  before  the  brief  authority  of  a  country  'Squire,  and 
the  sport  of  rustic  boors,  was  soon  to  become  the  delight  of 
princes  ;  the  theme  of  all  tongues  and  ages  ;  the  dictator  to  the 
human  mind  ;  and  was  to  confer  immortality  on  his  oppressor 
by  a  caricature  and  a  lampoon  ! 

I  was  now  invited  by  the  butler  to  walk  into  the  garden,  and 
I  felt  inclined  to  visit  the  orchard  and  arbor  where  the  Justice 
treated  Sir  John  Falstaff  and  Cousin  Silence  "to  a  last  year's 
pippin  of  his  own  grafting,  with  a  dish  of  caraways ;  "  but  I 


1  Bishop  Earle,  speaking  of  the  country  gentleman  of  his  time,  observes,  "his  house- 
keeping is  seen  much  in  the  different  families  of  dogs,  and  serving-men  attendant  on 
their  kennels;  and  the  deepness  of  their  throats  is  the  depth  of  his  discourse.  A  hawk 
he  esteems  the  true  burden  of  nobility,  and  is  exceedingly  ambitious  to  seem  delighted 
with  the  sport,  and  have  his  fist  gloved  with  his  jesses."  And  Gilpin,  in  his  description 
of  a  Mr.  Hastings,  remarks,  "  he  kept  all  sorts  of  hounds  that  run,  buck,  fox,  hare,  otter, 
and  badger;  and  had  hawks  of  all  kinds  both  long  and  short  winged.  His  great  hall  was 
commonly  strewed  with  marrow-bones,  and  full  of  hawk  perches,  hounds,  spaniels,  and 
terriers.  On  a  broad  hearth,  paved  with  brick,  lay  some  of  the  choicest  terriers,  hounds, 
and  spaniels." 


208  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

had  already  spent  so  much  of  the  day  in  my  ramblings,  that 
I  was  obliged  to  give  up  any  further  investigations.  When 
about  to  take  my  leave,  I  was  gratified  by  the  civil  entreaties 
of  the  housekeeper  and  butler,  that  I  would  take  some  refresh- 
ment —  an  instance  of  good  old  hospitality,  which  I  grieve  to 
say  we  castle-hunters  seldom  meet  with  in  modern  days.  I 
make  no  doubt  it  is  a  virtue  which  the  present  representative 
of  the  Lucys  inherits  from  his  ancestors ;  for  Shakspeare,  even 
in  his  caricature,  makes  Justice  Shallow  importunate  in  this 
respect,  as  witness  his  pressing  instances  to  Falstaff. 

"  By  cock  and  pye,  Sir,  you  shall  not  away  to-night  ...  I  will  not  excuse  you ; 
you  Bhall  not  be  excused ;  excuses  shall  not  be  admitted ;  there  is  no  excuse  shall  serve ; 
you  shall  not  be  excused  .  .  .  Some  pigeons,  Davy;  a  couple  of  short-legged  hens;  a 
joint  of  mutton;  and  any  pretty  little  tiny  kickshaws,  tell  William  Cook." 

I  now  bade  a  reluctant  farewell  to  the  old  hall.  My  mind 
had  become  so  completely  possessed  by  the  imaginary  scenes 
and  characters  connected  with  it,  that  I  seemed  to  be  actually 
living  among  them.  Every  thing  brought  them  as  it  were  be- 
fore my  eyes ;  and  as  the  door  of  the  dining-room  opened,  I 
almost  expected  to  hear  the  feeble  voice  of  Master  Silence 
quavering  forth  his  favorite  ditty  : 

"  'Tis  merry  in  hall,  when  beards  wag  all, 
And  welcome  merry  Shrove-tide !  " 

On  returning  to  my  inn,  I  could  not  but  reflect  on  the  singu- 
lar gift  of  the  poet ;  to  be  able  thus  to  spread  the  magic  of  his 
mind  over  the  very  face  of  nature  ;  to  give  to  things  and  places 
a  charm  and  character  not  their  own,  and  to  turn  this  "  work- 
ing-day world  "  into  a  perfect  fairy  land.  He  is  indeed  the  true 
enchanter,  whose  spell  operates,  not  upon  the  senses,  but  upon 
the  imagination  and  the  heart.  Under  the  wizard  influence  of 
Shakspeare  I  had  been  walking  all  day  in  a  complete  delusion. 
I  had  surveyed  the  landscape  through  the  prism  of  poetry, 
which  tinged  every  object  with  the  hues  of  the  rainbow.  I  had 
been  surrounded  with  fancied  jbeings  ;  with  mere  airy  nothings, 
conjured  up  by  poetic  power ;  yet  which,  to  me,  had  all  the 
charm  of  reality.  I  had  heard  Jaques  soliloquize  beneath  his 
oak  ;  had  beheld  the  fair  Rosalind  and  her  companion  adventur- 
ing through  the  woodlands  :  and,  above  all,  had  been  once  more 
present  in  spirit  with  fat  Jack  Falstaff,  and  his  contemporaries, 
from  the  august  Justice  Shallow,  down  to  the  gentle  Master 
Slender,  and  the  sweet  Anne  Page.  Ten  thousand  honors  and 


8TRA  TFORD-ON-A  VON.  209 

blessings  on  the  bard  who  has  thus  gilded  the  dull  realities  of 
life  with  innocent  illusions ;  who  has  spread  exquisite  and  un- 
bought  pleasures  in  my  checquered  path ;  and  beguiled  my  spirit 
in  many  a  lonely  hour,  with  all  the  cordial  and  cheerful  sympa- 
thies of  social  life ! 

As  I  crossed  the  bridge  over  the  Avon  on  my  return,  I  paused 
to  contemplate  the  distant  church  in  which  the  poet  lies  buried, 
and  could  not  but  exult  in  the  malediction  which  has  kept  his 
ashes  undisturbed  in  its  quiet  and  hallowed  vaults.  What 
honor  could  his  name  have  derived  from  being  mingled  in  dusty 
companionship  with  the  epitaphs  and  escutcheons  and  venal 
eulogiums  of  a  titled  multitude  ?  What  would  a  crowded  corner 
in  Westminster  Abbey  have  been,  compared  with  this  reverend 
pile,  which  seems  to  stand  in  beautiful  loneliness  as  his  sole 
mausoleum !  The  solicitude  about  the  grave  may  be  but  the 
offspring  of  an  overwrought  sensibility ;  but  human  nature  is 
made  up  of  foibles  and  prejudices ;  and  its  best  and  tenderest 
affections  are  mingled  with  these  factitious  feelings.  He  who 
has  sought  renown  about  the  world,  and  has  reaped  a  full  har- 
vest of  worldly  favor,  will  find,  after  all,  that  there  is  no  love, 
no  admiration,  no  applause,  so  sweet  to  the  soul  as  that  which 
springs  up  in  his  native  place.  It  is  there  that  he  seeks  to  be 
gathered  in  peace  and  honor,  among  his  kindred  and  his  early 
friends.  And  when  the  weary  heart  and  failing  head  begin  to 
warn  him  that  the  evening  of  life  is  drawing  on,  he  turns  as 
fondly  as  does  the  infant  to  the  mother's  arms,  to  sink  to  sleep 
in  the  bosom  of  the  scene  of  his  childhood. 

How  would  it  have  cheered  the  spirit  of  the  youthful  bard, 
when,  wandering  forth  in  disgrace  upon  a  doubtful  world,  he 
cast  back  a  heavy  look  upon  his  paternal  home,  could  he  have 
foreseen  that,  before  many  years,  he  should  return  to  it  covered 
with  renown  ;  that  his  name  should  become  the  boast  and  glory 
of  his  native  place  ;  that  his  ashes  should  be  religiously  guarded 
as  its  most  precious  treasure ;  and  that  its  lessening  spire,  on 
which  his  eyes  were  fixed  in  tearful  contemplation,  should  one 
day  become  the  beacon,  towering  amidst  the  gentle  landscape, 
to  guide  the  literary  pilgrim  of  every  nation  to  his  tomb  ! 


210  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 


TRAITS   OF   INDIAN  CHARACTER. 

"  I  appeal  to  any  white  man  if  ever  he  entered  Logan's  cabin  hungry,  and  he  gave 
him  not  to  eat;  if  ever  he  came  cold  and  naked,  and  he  clothed  him  not."  —  Speech  of 
an  Indian  Chief. 

THERE  is  something  in  the  character  and  habits  of  the  North 
American  savage,  taken  in  connection  with  the  scenery  over 
which  he  is  accustomed  to  range,  its  vast  lakes,  boundless 
forests,  majestic  rivers,  and  trackless  plains,  that  is,  to  my 
mind,  wonderfully  striking  and  sublime.  He  is  formed  for  the 
wilderness,  as  the  Arab  is  for  the  desert.  His  nature  is  stern, 
simple,  and  enduring ;  fitted  to  grapple  with  difficulties,  and  to 
support  privations.  There  seems  but  little  soil  in  his  heart  for 
the  support  of  the  kindly  virtues ;  and  yet,  if  we  would  but  take 
the  trouble  to  penetrate  through  that  proud  stoicism  and  habit- 
ual taciturnity,  which  lock  up  his  character  from  casual  obser- 
vation, we  should  find  him  linked  to  his  fellow-man  of  civilized 
life  by  more  of  those  sympathies  and  affections  than  are  usually 
ascribed  to  him. 

It  has  been  the  lot  of  the  unfortunate  aborigines  of  America, 
in  the  early  periods  of  colonization,  to  be  doubly  wronged  by 
the  white  men.  They  have  been  dispossessed  of  their  heredi- 
tary possessions,  by  mercenary  and  frequently  wanton  warfare  ; 
and  their  characters  have  been  traduced  by  bigoted  and  inter- 
ested writers.  The  colonists  often  treated  them  like  beasts 
of  the  forest ;  and  the  author  has  endeavored  to  justify  him  in 
his  outrages.  The  former  found  it  easier  to  exterminate  than 
to  civilize  —  the  latter  to  vilify  than  to  discriminate.  The  ap- 
pellations of  savage  and  pagan  were  deemed  sufficient  to  sanc- 
tion the  hostilities  of  both  ;  and  thus  the  poor  wanderers  of  the 
forest  were  persecuted  and  defamed,  not  because  they  were 
guilty,  but  because  they  were  ignorant. 

The  rights  of  the  savage  have  seldom  been  properly  appre- 
ciated or  respected  by  the  white  man.  In  peace,  he  has  too 
often  been  the  dupe  of  artful  traffic ;  in  war,  he  has  been  re- 
garded as  a  ferocious  animal,  whose  life  or  death  was  a  question 
of  mere  precaution  and  convenience.  Man  is  cruelly  wasteful 
of  life  when  his  own  safety  is  endangered,  and  he  is  sheltered 
by  impunity  ;  and  little  mercy  is  to  be  expected  from  him  when 
he  feels  the  sting  of  the  reptile,  and  is  conscious  of  the  power  to 
destroy. 


TRAITS.  OF  INDIAN  CHARACTER.  211 

The  same  prejudices  which  were  indulged  thus  early,  exist 
in  common  circulation  at  the  present  day.  Certain  learned 
societies  have,  it  is  true,  with  laudable  diligence,  endeavored  to 
investigate  and  record  the  real  characters  and  manners  of  the 
Indian  tribes ;  the  American  government,  too,  has  wisely  and 
humanely  exerted  itself  to  inculcate  a  friendly  and  forbearing 
spirit  towards  them,  and  to  protect  them  from  fraud  and  injus- 
tice.1 The  current  opinion  of  the  Indian  character,  however,  is 
too  apt  to  be  formed  from  the  miserable  hordes  which  infest  the 
frontiers,  and  hang  on  the  skirts  of  the  settlements.  These  are 
too  commonly  composed  of  degenerate  beings,  corrupted  and 
enfeebled  by  the  vices  of  society,  without  being  benefited  by  its 
civilization.  That  proud  independence,  which  formed  the  main 
pillar  of  savage  virtue,  has  been  shaken  down,  and  the  whole 
moral  fabric  lies  in  ruins.  Their  spirits  are  humiliated  and  de- 
based by  a  sense  of  inferiority,  and  their  native  courage  cowed 
and  daunted  by  the  superior  knowledge  and  power  of  their 
enlightened  neighbors.  Society  has  advanced  upon  them  like 
one  of  those  withering  airs  that  will  sometimes  breathe  desola- 
tion over  a  whole  region  of  fertility.  It  has  enervated  their 
strength,  multiplied  their  diseases,  and  superinduced  upon  their 
original  barbarity  the  low  vices  of  artificial  life.  It  has  given 
them  a  thousand  superfluous  wants,  whilst  it  has  diminished 
their  means  of  mere  existence.  It  has  driven  before  it  the  ani- 
mals of  the  chase,  who  fly  from  the  sound  of  the  axe  and  the 
smoke  of  the  settlement,  and  seek  refuge  in  the  depths  of 
remoter  forests  and  yet  untrodden  wilds.  Thus  do  we  too  often 
find  the  Indians  on  our  frontiers  to  be  the  mere  wrecks  and 
remnants  of  once  powerful  tribes,  who  have  lingered  in  the 
vicinity  of  the  settlements,  and  sunk  into  precarious  and  vaga- 
bond existence.  Poverty,  repining  and  hopeless  poverty,  a 
canker  of  the  mind  unknown  in  savage  life,  corrodes  their  spirits 
and  blights  every  free  and  noble  quality  of  their  natures.  They 
become  drunken,  indolent,  feeble,  thievish,  and  pusillanimous. 
They  loiter  like  vagrants  about  the  settlements,  among  spacious 
dwellings,  replete  with  elaborate  comforts,  which  only  render 
them  sensible  of  the  comparative  wretchedness  of  their  own 
condition.  Luxury  spreads  its  ample  board  before  their  eyes  ; 
but  they  are  excluded  from  the  banquet.  Plenty  revels  over 

1  The  American  government  has  been  indefatigable  in  its  exertions  to  ameliorate  the 
situation  of  the  Indians,  and  to  introduce  among  them  the  arts  of  civilization,  and  civil 
and  religious  knowledge.  To  protect  them  from  the  frauds  of  the  white  traders,  no 
purchase  of  land  from  them  by  individuals  is  permitted;  nor  is  any  person  allowed  to 
receive  lands  from  them  as  a  present,  without  the  express  sanction  of  government 
These  precautions  are  strictly  enforced. 


212  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

the  fields  ;  but  they  are  starving  in  the  midst  of  its  abundance  ; 
the  whole  wilderness  has  blossomed  into  a  garden ;  but  they 
feel  as  reptiles  that  infest  it. 

How  different  was  their  state  while  yet  the  undisputed  lords 
of  the  soil !  Their  wants  were  few,  and  the  means  of  gratifi- 
cation within  their  reach.  They  saw  every  one  around  them 
sharing  the  same  lot,  enduring  the  same  hardships,  feeding  on 
the  same  aliments,  arrayed  in  the  same  rude  garments.  No 
roof  then  rose,  but  was  open  to  the  homeless  stranger ;  no 
smoke  curled  among  the  trees,  but  he  was  welcome  to  sit  down 
by  its  fire  and  join  the  hunter  in  his  repast.  "  For,"  says  an 
old  historian  of  New  England,  "  their  life  is  so  void  of  care, 
and  they  are  so  loving  also,  that  they  make  use  of  those  things 
they  enjoy  as  common  goods,  and  are  therein  so  compassionate, 
that  rather  than  one  should  starve  through  want,  they  would 
starve  all;  thus  they  pass  their  time  merrily,  not  regarding 
our  pomp,  but  are  better  content  with  their  own,  which  some 
men  esteem  so  meanly  of."  Such  were  the  Indians,  whilst  in 
the  pride  and  energy  of  their  primitive  natures  ;  they  resemble 
those  wild  plants  which  thrive  best  in  the  shades  of  the  forest, 
but  shrink  from  the  hand  of  cultivation,  and  perish  beneath  the 
influence  of  the  sun. 

In  discussing  the  savage  character,  writers  have  been  too 
prone  to  indulge  in  vulgar  prejudice  and  passionate  exaggera- 
tion, instead  of  the  candid  temper  of  true  philosoph}-.  They 
have  not-  sufficiently  considered  the  peculiar  circumstances  in 
which  the  Indians  have  been  placed,  and  the  peculiar  principles 
under  which  they  have  been  educated.  No  being  acts  more 
rigidly  from  rule  than  the  Indian.  His  whole  conduct  is  regu- 
lated according  to  some  general  maxims  early  implanted  in  his 
mind.  The  moral  laws  that  govern  him  are,  to  be  sure,  but 
few ;  but  then  he  conforms  to  them  all ;  —  the  white  man 
abounds  in  laws  of  religion,  morals,  and  manners,  but  how 
many  does  he  violate  ! 

A  frequent  ground  of  accusation  against  the  Indians  is  their 
disregard  of  treaties,  and  the  treachery  and  wantonness  with 
which,  in  time  of  apparent  peace,  they  will  suddenly  fly  to 
hostilities.  The  intercourse  of  the  white  men  with  the  Indians, 
however,  is  too  apt  to  be  cold,  distrustful,  oppressive,  and  in- 
sulting. They  seldom  treat  them  with  that  confidence  and 
frankness  which  are  indispensable  to  real  friendship  ;  nor  is 
sufficient  caution  observed  not  to  offend  against  those  feelings 
of  pride  or  superstition,  which  often  prompt  the  Indian  to  hos- 
tility quicker  than  mere  considerations  of  interest.  The  solitary 


TRAITS    OF  INDIAN  CHARACTER.  213- 

savage  feels  silently,  but  acutely.  His  sensibilities  are  not 
diffused  over  so  wide  a  surface  as  those  of  the  white  man  ;  but 
the}7  run  in  steadier  and  deeper  channels.  His  pride,  his  affec- 
tions, his  superstitions,  are  all  directed  towards  fewer  objects  ; 
but  the  wounds  inflicted  on  them  are  proper tionably  severe, 
and  furnish  motives  of  hostility  which  we  cannot  sufficiently 
appreciate.  Where  a  community  is  also  limited  in  number,  and 
forms  one  great  patriarchal  family,  as  in  an  Indian  tribe,  the 
injury  of  an  individual  is  the  injury  of  the  whole,  and  the  senti- 
ment of  vengeance  is  almost  instantaneously  diffused.  One 
council-fire  is  sufficient  for  the  discussion  and  arrangement  of 
a  plan  of  hostilities.  Here  all  the  fighting  men  and  sages 
assemble.  Eloquence  and  superstition  combine  to  inflame  the 
minds  of  the  warriors.  The  orator  awakens  their  martial  ardor, 
and  they  are  wrought  up  to  a  kind  of  religious  desperation,  by 
the  visions  of  the  prophet  and  the*  dreamer. 

An  instance  of  one  of  those  sudden  exasperations,  arising 
from  a  motive  peculiar  to  the  Indian  character,  is  extant  in  an 
old  record  of  the  early  settlement  of  Massachusetts.  The 
planters  of  Plymouth  had  defaced  the  monuments  of  the  dead 
at  Passonagessit,  and  had  plundered  the  grave  of  the  Sachem's 
mother  of  some  skins  with  which  it  had  been  decorated.  The 
Indians  are  remarkable  for  the  reverence  which  they  entertain 
for  the  sepulchres  of  their  kindred.  Tribes  that  have  passed 
generations  exiled  from  the  abodes  of  their  ancestors,  when  by 
chance  they  have  been  travelling  in  the  vicinit}7,  have  been 
known  to  turn  aside  from  the  highway,  and,  guided  by  wonder- 
fully accurate  tradition,  have  crossed  the  country  for  miles  to 
some  tumulus,  buried  perhaps  in  woods,  where  the  bones  of 
their  tribe  were  anciently  deposited ;  and  there  have  passed 
hours  in  silent  meditation.  Influenced  by  this  sublime  and 
holy  feeling,  the  Sachem,  whose  mother's  tomb  had  been  vio- 
lated, gathered  his  men  together,  and  addressed  them  in  the 
following  beautifully  simple  and  pathetic  harangue  ;  a  curious 
specimen  of  Indian  eloquence,  and  an  affecting  instance  of  filial 
piety  in  a  savage  : 

"  When  last  the  glorious  light  of  all  the  sky  was  underneath 
this  globe,  and  birds  grew  silent,  I  began  to  settle,  as  my  cus- 
tom is,  to  take  repose.  Before  mine  eyes  were  fast  closed, 
methought  I  saw  a  vision,  at  which  my  spirit  was  much 
troubled  ;  and  trembling  at  that  doleful  sight,  a  spirit  cried 
aloud,  'Behold,  my  son,  whom  I  have  cherished,  see  the  breasts 
that  gave  thee  suck,  the  hands  that  lapped  thee  warm,  and  fed 
thee  oft.  Canst  thou  forget  to  take  revenge  of  those  wild 


214  THE   SKETCH-BOOK. 

people,  who  have  defaced  my  monument  in  a  despiteful  manner, 
disdaining  our  antiquities  and  honorable  customs?  See,  now, 
the  Sachem's  grave  lies  like  the  common  people,  defaced  by  an 
ignoble  race.  Thy  mother  doth  complain,  and  implores  thy  aid 
against  this  thievish  people,  who  have  newly  intruded  on  out 
iand.  If  this  be  suffered,  I  shall  not  rest  quiet  in  my  everlast- 
ing habitation.'  This  said,  the  spirit  vanished,  and  I,  all  in  a 
sweat,  not  able  scarce  to  speak,  began  to  get  some  strength, 
and  recollect  my  spirits  that  were  fled,  and  determined  to  demand 
your  counsel  and  assistance." 

I  have  adduced  this  anecdote  at  some  length,  as  it  tends  to 
show  how  these  sudden  acts  of  hostility,  which  have  been  at- 
tributed to  caprice  and  perfidy,  may  often  arise  from  deep  and 
generous  motives,  which  our  inattention  to  Indian  character 
and  customs  prevents  our  properly  appreciating. 

Another  ground  of  violent  outcry  against  the  Indians,  is  their 
barbarity  to  the  vanquished.  This  had  its  origin  partly  in  policy 
and  partly  in  superstition.  The  tribes,  though  sometimes  called 
nations,  were  never  so  formidable  in  their  numbers,  but  that 
the  loss  of  several  warriors  was  sensibly  felt ;  this  was  particu- 
larly the  case  when  they  had  been  frequently  engaged  in  war- 
fare ;  and  many  an  instance  occurs  in  Indian  history,  where  a 
tribe,  that  had  long  been  formidable  to  its  neighbors,  has  been 
broken  up  and  driven  away,  by  the  capture  and  massacre  of  its 
principal  fighting  men.  There  was  a  strong  temptation,  there- 
fore, to  the  victor,  to  be  merciless  ;  not  so  much  to  gratify  any 
cruel  revenge,  as  to  provide  for  future  security.  The  Indians 
had  also  the  superstitious  belief,  frequent  among  barbarous 
nations,  and  prevalent  also  among  the  ancients,  that  the  manes 
of  their  friends  who  had  fallen  in  battle  were  soothed  by  the 
blood  of  the  captives.  The  prisoners,  however,  who  are  not 
thus  sacrificed,  are  adopted  into  their  families  in  the  place  of 
the  slain,  and  are  treated  with  the  confidence  and  affection  of 
relatives  and  friends  ;  nay,  so  hospitable  and  tender  is  their 
entertainment,  that  when  the  alternative  is  offered  them,  they 
will  often  prefer  to  remain  with  their  adopted  brethren,  rather 
than  return  to  the  home  and  the  friends  of  their  youth. 

The  cruelty  of  the  Indians  towards  their  prisoners  has  been 
heightened  since  the  colonization  of  the  whites.  What  was 
formerly  a  compliance  with  policy  and  superstition,  has  been 
exasperated  into  a  gratification  of  vengeance.  They  cannot  but 
be  sensible  that  the  white  men  are  the  usurpers  of  their  ancient 
dominion,  the  cause  of  their  degradation,  and  the  gradual  de- 
stroyers of  their  race.  They  go  forth  to  battle,  smarting  with 


TRAITS   OF  INDIAN  CHARACTER.  215 

injuries  and  indignities  which  they  have  individually  suffered, 
and  they  are  driven  to  madness  and  despair  b}'  the  wide-spread- 
ing desolation,  and  the  overwhelming  ruin  of  European  warfare. 
The  whites  have  too  frequently  set  them  an  example  of  violence, 
by  burning  their  villages  and  laying  waste  their  slender  means 
of  subsistence  ;  and  yet  they  wonder  that  savages  do  not  show 
moderation  and  magnanimity  towards  those  who  have  left  them 
nothing  but  mere  existence  and  wretchedness. 

We  stigmatize  the  Indians,  also,  as  cowardly  and  treacherous, 
because  they  use  stratagem  in  warfare,  in  preference  to  open 
force ;  but  in  this  they  are  fully  justified  by  their  rude  code  of 
honor.  They  are  early  taught  that  stratagem  is  praiseworthy  : 
the  bravest  warrior  thinks  it  no  disgrace  to  lurk  in  silence,  and 
take  every  advantage  of  his  foe :  he  triumphs  in  the  superior 
craft  and  sagacity  by  which  he  has  been  enabled  to  surprise  and 
destroy  an  enemy.  Indeed,  man  is  naturally  more  prone  to 
subtilty  than  open  valor,  owing  to  his  physical  weakness  in 
comparison  with  other  animals.  They  are  endowed  with  natu- 
ral weapons  of  defence :  with  horns,  with  tusks,  with  hoofs, 
and  talons :  but  man  has  to  depend  on  his  superior  sagacity. 
In  all  his  encounters  with  these,  his  proper  enemies,  he  resorts 
to  stratagem  ;  and  when  he  perversely  turns  his  hostility  against 
his  fellow-man,  he  at  first  continues  the  same  subtle  mode  of 
warfare. 

The  natural  principle  of  war  is  to  do  the  most  harm  to  our 
enemy,  with  the  least  harm  to  ourselves ;  and  this  of  course  is 
to  be  effected  by  stratagem.  That  chivalrous  courage  which 
induces  us  to  despise  the  suggestions  of  prudence,  and  to  rush 
in  the  face  of  certain  danger,  is  the  offspring  of  society-,  and 
produced  by  education.  It  is  honorable,  because  it  is  in  fact 
the  triumph  of  lofty  sentiment  over  an  instinctive  repugnance 
to  pain,  and  over  those  yearnings  after  personal  ease  and 
security,  which  society  has  condemned  as  ignoble.  It  is  kept 
alive  by  pride  and  the  fear  of  shame ;  and  thus  the  dread  of 
real  evil  is  overcome  by  the  superior,  dread  of  an  evil  which 
exists  but  in  the  imagination.  It  has  been  cherished  and  stimu- 
lated also  by  various  means.  It  has  been  the  theme  of  spirit- 
stirring  song  and  chivalrous  story.  The  poet  and  minstrel  have 
delighted  to  shed  round  it  the  splendors  of  fiction  ;  and  even 
the  historian  has  forgotten  the  sober  gravity  of  narration,  and 
broken  forth  into  enthusiasm  and  rhapsody  in  its  praise.  Tri- 
umphs and  gorgeous  pageants  have  been  its  reward :  monu- 
ments, on  which  art  has  exhausted  its  skill,  and  opulence  its 
treasures,  have  been  erected  to  perpetuate  a  nation's  gratitude 


216  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

and  admiration.  Thus  artificially  excited,  courage  has  risen  to 
an  extraordinary  and  factitious  degree  of  heroism  ;  and,  arrayed 
in  all  the  glorious  "  pomp  and  circumstance  of  war,"  this  turbu- 
lent quality  has  even  been  able  to  eclipse  many  of  those  quiet, 
but  invaluable  virtues,  which  silently  ennoble  the  human  char- 
acter, and  swell  the  tide  of  human  happiness. 

But  if  courage  intrinsically  consists  in  the  defiance  of  danger 
and  pain,  the  Hfe  of  the  Indian  is  a  continual  exhibition  of  it. 
He  lives  in  a  state  of  perpetual  hostility  and  risk.  Peril  and 
adventure  are  congenial  to  his  nature  ;  or  rather  seem  neces- 
sary to  arouse  his  faculties  and  to  give  an  interest  to  his  exist- 
ence. Surrounded  by  hostile  tribes  whose  mode  of  warfare  is 
by  ambush  and  surprisal,  he  is  always  prepared  for  fight,  and 
lives  with  his  weapons  in  his  hands.  As  the  ship  careers  in 
fearful  singleness  through  the  solitudes  of  ocean,  —  as  the  bird 
mingles  among  clouds  and  storms,  and  wings  its  way,  a  mere 
speck,  across  the  pathless  fields  of  air ;  so  the  Indian  holds  his 
course,  silent,  solitary,  but  undaunted,  through  the  boundless 
bosom  of  the  wilderness.  His  expeditions  may  vie  in  distance 
and  danger  with  the  pilgrimage  of  the  devotee,  or  the  crusade 
of  the  knight-errant.  He  traverses  vast  forests,  exposed  to  the 
hazards  of  lonely  sickness,  of  lurking  enemies,  and  pining 
famine.  Stormy  lakes,  those  great  inland  seas,  are  no  obsta- 
cles to  his  wanderings  :  in  his  light  canoe  of  bark,  he  sports 
like  a  feather  on  their  waves,  and  darts  with  the  swiftness  of 
an  arrow  down  the  roaring  rapids  of  the  rivers.  His  very  sub- 
sistence is  snatched  from  the  midst  of  toil  and  peril.  He  gains 
his  food  by  the  hardships  and  dangers  of  the  chase  ;  he  wraps 
himself  in  the  spoils  of  the  bear,  the  panther,  and  the  buffalo  ; 
and  sleeps  among  the  thunders  of  the  cataract. 

No  hero  of  ancient  or  modern  days  can  surpass  the  Indian  in 
his  lofty  contempt  of  death,  and  the  fortitude  with  which  he 
sustains  its  cruelest  infliction.  Indeed,  we  here  behold  him 
rising  superior  to  the  white  man,  in  consequence  of  his  peculiar 
education.  The  latter  rushes  to  glorious  death  at  the  cannon's 
mouth  ;  the  former  calmly  contemplates  its  approach,  and  tri- 
umphantly endures  it,  amidst  the  varied  torments  of  surround- 
ing foes,  and  the  protracted  agonies  of  fire.  He  even  takes  a 
pride  in  taunting  his  persecutors,  and  provoking  their  ingenuity 
of  torture  ;  and  as  the  devouring  flames  prey  on  his  very  vitals, 
and  the  flesh  shrinks  from  the  sinews,  he  raises  his  last  song  of 
triumph,  breathing  the  defiance  of  an  uncouquered  heart,  and 
invoking  the  spirits  of  his  fathers  to  witness  that  he  dies  with- 


TEA1TS   OF  INDIAN   CHARACTER.  •  217 

Notwithstanding  the  obloquy  with  which  the  early  historians 
have  overshadowed  the  characters  of  the  unfortunate  natives, 
some  bright  gleams  occasionally  break  through,  which  throw  a 
degree  of  melancholy  lustre  on  their  memories.  Facts  are  occa- 
sionally to  be  met  with  in  the  rude  annals  of  the  eastern  prov- 
inces, which,  though  recorded  with  the  coloring  of  prejudice 
and  bigotry,  yet  speak  for  themselves ;  and  will  be  dvvelt  on 
with  applause  and  sympathy,  when  prejudice  shall  have  passed 
away. 

In  one  of  the  homely  narratives  of  the  Indian  wars  in  New 
England,  there  is  a  touching  account  of  the  desolation  carried 
into  the  tribe  of  the  Pequod  Indians.  Humanity  shrinks  from 
the  cold-blooded  detail  of  indiscriminate  butchery.  In  one 
place  we  read  of  the  surprisal  of  an  Indian  fort  in  the  night, 
when  the  wigwams  were  wrapped  in  flames,  and  the  miserable 
inhabitants  shot  down  and  slain  in  attempting  to  escape,  "all 
being  despatched  and  ended  in  the  course  of  an  hour."  After 
a  series  of  similar  transactions,  "our  soldiers,"  as  the  histo- 
rian piously  observes,  "being  resolved  by  God's  assistance  to 
make  a  final  destruction  of  them,"  the  unhappy  savages  being 
hunted  from  their  homes  and  fortresses,  and  pursued  with  fire 
and  sword,  a  scanty  but  gallant  band,  the  sad  remnant  of  the 
Pequod  warriors,  with  their  wives  and  children,  took  refuge  in 
a  swamp. 

Burning  with  indignation,  and  rendered  sullen  by  despair ; 
with  hearts  bursting  with  grief  at  the  destruction  of  their  tribe, 
and  spirits  galled  and  sore  at  the  fancied  ignominy  of  their 
defeat,  they  refused  to  ask  their  lives  at  the  hands  of  an  insult- 
ing foe,  and  preferred  death  to  submission. 

As  the  night  drew  on,  they  were  surrounded  in  their  dismal 
retreat,  so  as  to  render  escape  impracticable.  Thus  situated, 
their  enemy  "  plied  them  with  shot  all  the  time,  by  which 
means  many  were  killed  and  buried  m  the  mire."  In  the 
darkness  and  fog  that  preceded  the  dawn  of  day,  some  few 
broke  through  the  besiegers  and  escaped  into  the  woods  :  "  the 
rest  were  left  to  the  conquerors,  of  which  many  were  killed  in 
the  swamp;  like  sullen  dogs  who  would  rather,  in  their  self- 
willed  ness  and  madness,  sit  still  and  be  shot  through,  or  cut  to 
pieces,"  than  implore  for  mercy.  When  the  day  broke  upon 
this  handful  of  forlorn  but  dauntless  spirits,  the  soldiers,  we 
are  told,  entering  the  swamp,  "  saw  several  heaps  of  them  sit- 
ting close  together,  upon  whom  the}*  discharged  their  pieces, 
laden  with  ten  or  twelve  pistol-bullets  at  a  time  ;  putting  the 
muzzles  of  the  pieces  under  the  boughs,  within  a  few  yards  of 


218  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

them  ;  so  as,  besides  those  that  were  found  dead,  many  more 
were  killed  and  sunk  into  the  mire,  and  never  were  minded 
more  by  friend  or  foe." 

Can  any  one  read  this  plain  unvarnished  tale,  without  ad- 
miring the  stern  resolution,  the  unbending  pride,  the  loftiness 
of  spirit,  that  seemed  to  nerve  the  hearts  of  these  self-taught 
heroes,  and  to  raise  them  above  the  instinctive  feelings  of 
human  nature?  When  the  Gauls  laid  waste  the  city  of  Rome, 
they  found  the  senators  clothed  in  their  robes  and  seated  with 
stern  tranquillity  in  their  curule  chairs ;  in  this  manner  they 
suffered  death  without  resistance  or  even  supplication.  Such 
conduct  was,  in  them,  applauded  as  noble  and  magnanimous  — 
in  the  hapless  Indians,  it  was  reviled  as  obstinate  and  sullen. 
How  truly  are  we  the  dupes  of  show  and  circumstance  !  How 
different  is  virtue,  clothed  in  purple  and  enthroned  in  state, 
from  virtue  naked  and  destitute,  and  perishing  obscurely  in  a 
wilderness ! 

But  I  forbear  to  dwell  on  these  gloomy  pictures.  The  east- 
ern tribes  have  long  since  disappeared  ;  the  forests  that  shel- 
tered them  have  been  laid  low,  and  scarce  airy  traces  remain  of 
them  in  the  thickly-settled  states  of  New-England,  excepting 
here  and  there  the  Indian  name  of  a  village  or  a  stream.  And 
such  must  sooner  or  later  be  the  fate  of  those  other  tribes 
which  skirt  the  frontiers,  and  have  occasionally  been  inveigled 
from  their  forests  to  mingle  in  the  wars  of  white  men.  In  a 
little  while,  and  they  will  go  the  way  that  their  brethren  have 
gone  before.  The  few  hordes  which  still  linger  about  the 
shores  of  Huron  and  Superior,  and  the  tributary  streams  of 
the  Mississippi,  will  share  the  fate  of  those  tribes  that  once 
spread  over  Massachusetts  and  Connecticut,  and  lorded  it 
along  the  proud  banks  of  the  Hudson  ;  of  that  gigantic  race 
said  to  have  existed  on  the  borders  of  the  Susquehanna ;  and 
of  those  various  nations  that  flourished  about  the  Potomac 
and  the  Rappahannock,  and  that  peopled  the  forests  of  the  vast 
valley  of  Shenandoah.  They  will  vanish  like  a  vapor  from 
the  face  of  the  earth ;  their  very  history  will  be  lost  in  forget- 
fuluess  ;  and  "  the  places  that  now  know  them  will  know  them 
no  more  forever."  Or  if,  perchance,  some  dubious  memorial 
of  them  should  survive,  it  may  be  in  the  romantic  dreams  of 
the  poet,  to  people  in  imagination  his  glades  and  groves,  like 
the  fauns  and  satyrs  and  sylvan  deities  of  antiquity.  But 
should  he  venture  upon  the  dark  story  of  their  wrongs  and 
wretchedness ;  should  he  tell  how  they  were  invaded,  cor- 
rupted, despoiled ;  driven  from  their  native  abodes  and  the 


PHILIP   OF  POKANOKET.  219 

sepulchres  of  their  fathers  ;  hunted  like  wild  beasts  about  the 
earth ;  and  sent  down  with  violence  and  butchery  to  the  grave 
• —  posterity  will  either  turn  with  horror  and  incredulity  from 
the  tale,  or  blush  with  indignation  at  the  inhumanity  of  their 
forefathers.  "We  are  driven  back,"  said  an  old  warrior, 
"until  we  can  retreat  no  farther  —  our  hatchets  are  broken, 
our  bows  are  snapped,  our  fires  are  nearly  extinguished  —  a 
little  longer  and  the  white  man  will  cease  to  persecute  us  —  for 
we  shall  cease  to  exist." 


PHILIP  OF   POKANOKET. 

AN   INDIAN    MEMOIR. 

As  monumental  bronze  unchanged  his  look : 

A  soul  that  pity  touch'd,  but  never  shook; 

Train'd,  from  his  tree-rock'd  cradle  to  his  bier, 

The  fierce  extremes  of  good  and  ill  to  brook 

Impassive  —  fearing  but  the  shame  of  fear  — 

A  stoic  of  the  woods  —  a  man  without  a  tear.  —  CAMPBELL. 

IT  is  to  be  regretted  that  those  early  writers  who  treated  of 
the  discovery  and  settlement  of  America  have  not  given  us 
more  particular  and  candid  accounts  of  the  remarkable  charac- 
ters that  flourished  in  savage  life.  The  scanty  anecdotes  which 
have  reached  us  are  full  of  peculiarity  and  interest ;  they  fur- 
nish us  with  nearer  glimpses  of  human  nature,  and  show  what 
man  is  in  a  comparatively  primitive  state,  and  what  he  owes  to 
civilization.  There  is  something  of  the  charm  of  discovery 
in  lighting  upon  these  wild  and  unexplored  tracts  of  human 
nature ;  in  witnessing,  as  it  were,  the  native  growth  of  moral 
sentiment ;  and  perceiving  those  generous  and  romantic  quali- 
ties which  have  been  artificially  cultivated  by  society,  vegetating 
in  spontaneous  hardihood  and  rude  magnificence. 

In  civilized  life,  where  the  happiness,  and  indeed  almost  the 
existence,  of  man  depends  so  much  upon  the  opinion  of  his 
fellow-men,  he  is  constantly  acting  a  studied  part.  The  bold 
and  peculiar  traits  of  native  character  are  refined  away,  or 
softened  down  by  the  levelling  influence  of  what  is  termed 
good  breeding ;  and  he  practises  so  many  petty  deceptions,  and 
affects  so  many  generous  sentiments,  for  the  purposes  of  popu- 
larity, that  it  is  difficult  to  distinguish  his  real  from  his  arti- 


220  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

ficial  character.  The  Indian,  on  the  contrary,  free  from  the 
restraints  and  refinements  of  polished  life,  and,  in  a  great 
degree,  a  solitary  and  independent  being,  obeys  the  impulses 
of  his  inclination  or  the  dictates  of  his  judgment ;  and  thus  the 
attributes  of  his  nature,  being  freely  indulged,  grow  singly 
great  and  striking.  Society  is  like  a  lawn,  where  every  rough- 
ness is  smoothed,  every  bramble  eradicated,  and  where  the  eye 
is  delighted  b}'  the  smiling  verdure  of  a  velvet  surface;. he, 
however,  who  would  study  Nature  in  its  wildness  and  variety, 
must  plunge  into  the  forest,  must  explore  the  glen,  must  stem 
the  torrent,  and  dare  the  precipice. 

These  reflections  arose  on  casually  looking  through  a  volume 
of  early  colonial  history,  wherein  are  recorded,  with  great  bit- 
terness, the  outrages  of  the  Indians,  and  their  wars  with  the 
settlers  of  New-England.  It  is  painful  to  perceive,  even  from 
these  partial  narratives,  how  the  footsteps  of  civilization  may 
be  traced  in  the  blood  of  the  aborigines  ;  how  easily  the  colo- 
nists were  moved  to  hostility  by  the  lust  of  conquest;  how 
merciless  and  exterminating  was  their  warfare.  The  imagina- 
tion shrinks  at  the  idea,  how  many  intellectual  beings  were 
hunted  from  the  earth  —  how  many  brave  and  noble  hearts,  of 
Nature's  sterling  coinage,  were  broken  down  and  trampled  in 
the  dust ! 

Such  was  the  fate  of  PHILIP  OF  POKANOKET,  an  Indian  war- 
rior, whose  name  was  once  a  terror  throughout  Massachusetts 
and  Connecticut.  He  was  the  most  distinguished  of  a  number 
of  contemporary  Sachems,  who  reigned  over  the  Pequods,  the 
Narragansets,  the  Wampanoags,  and  the  other  eastern  tribes, 
at  the  time  of  the  first  settlement  of  New-England :  a  band  of 
native  untaught  heroes  ;  who  made  the  most  generous  struggle 
of  which  human  nature  is  capable  ;  fighting  to  the  last  gasp  in 
the  cause  of  their  country,  without  a  hope  of  victory  or  a 
thought  of  renown.  Worthy  of  an  age  of  poetry,  and  fit  sub- 
jects for  local  story  and  romantic  fiction,  they  have  left  scarcely 
any  authentic  traces  on  the  page  of  history,  but  stalk,  like  gi- 
gantic shadows,  in  the  dim  twilight  of  tradition.1 

When  the  Pilgrims,  as  the  Plymouth  settlers  are  called  by 
their  descendants,  first  took  refuge  on  the  shores  of  the  New 
World,  from  the  religious  persecutions  of  the  Old,  their  situa- 
tion was  to  the  last  degree  gloomy  and  disheartening.  Few  in 
number,  and  that  number  rapidly  perishing  away  through  sick- 


1  While  correcting  the  proof-sheets  of  this  article,  the  author  is  informed,  that  a 
celebrated  English  poet  has  nearly  finished  an  heroic  poem  on  the  story  of  Philip  of 
Pokanoket. 


PHILIP   OF  POKANOKET.  221 

ness  and  hardships ;  surrounded  by  a  howling  wilderness  and 
savage  tribes ;  exposed  to  the  rigors  of  an  almost  arctic  win- 
ter, and  the  vicissitudes  of  an  ever-shifting  climate  ;  their  minds 
were  filled  with  doleful  forebodings,  and  nothing  preserved 
them  from  sinking  into  despondency  but  the  strong  excitement 
of  religious  enthusiasm.  In  this  forlorn  situation  they  were 
visited  by  Massasoit,  chief  Sagamore  of  the  Wampanoags,  a 
powerful  chief,  who  reigned  over  a  great  extent  of  country. 
Instead  of  taking  advantage  of  the  scanty  number  of  the  stran- 
gers, and  expelling  them  from  his  territories  into  which  they  had 
intruded,  he  seemed  at  once  to  conceive  for  them  a  generous 
friendship,  and  extended  towards  them  the  rights  of  primitive 
hospitality.  He  came  early  in  the  spring  to  their  settlement 
of  New-Plymouth,  attended  by  a  mere  handful  of  followers ; 
entered  into  a  solemn  league  of  peace  and  amity  ;  sold  them  a 
portion  of  the  soil,  and  promised  to  secure  for  them  the  good- 
will of  his  savage  allies.  Whatever  may  be  said  of  Indian 
perfidy,  it  is  certain  that  the  integrity  and  good  faith  of  Mas- 
sasoit have  never  been  impeached.  He  continued  a  firm  and 
magnanimous  friend  of  the  white  men ;  suffering  them  to  ex- 
tend their  possessions,  and  to  strengthen  themselves  in  the 
land  ;  and  betraying  no  jealousy  of  their  increasing  power  and 
prosperity.  Shortly  before  his  death,  he  came  once  more  to 
New-Plymouth,  with  his  son  Alexander,  for  the  purpose  of 
renewing  the  covenant  of  peace,  and  of  securing  it  to  his  pos- 
terity. 

At  this  conference,  he  endeavored  to  protect  the  religion  of 
his  forefathers  from  the  encroaching  zeal  of  the  missionaries ; 
and  stipulated  that  no  further  attempt  should  be  made  to  draw 
off  his  people  from  their  ancient  faith  ;  but,  finding  the  English 
obstinately  opposed  to  any  such  condition,  he  mildly  relin- 
quished the  demand.  Almost  the  last  act  of  his  life  was  to 
bring  his  two  sons,  Alexander  and  Philip  (as  they  had  been 
named  by  the  English)  to  the  residence  of  a  principal  settler, 
recommending  mutual  kindness  and  confidence  ;  and  entreating 
that  the  same  love  and  amity  which  had  existed  between  the 
white  men  and  himself,  might  be  continued  afterwards  with  his 
children.  The  good  old  Sachem  died  in  peace,  and  was  happily 
gathered  to  his  fathers  before  sorrow  came  upon  his  tribe  ;  his 
children  remained  behind  to  experience  the  ingratitude  of  white 
men. 

His  eldest  son,  Alexander,  succeeded  him.  He  was  of  a  quick 
and  impetuous  temper,  and  proudly  tenacious  of  his  hereditary 
rights  and  dignity.  The  intrusive  policy  and  dictatorial  con- 


222  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

duct  of  the  strangers  excited  his  indignation  ;  and  he  beheld 
with  uneasiness  their  exterminating  wars  with  the  neighboring 
tribes.  He  was  doomed  soon  to  incur  their  hostility,  being 
accused  of  plotting  with  the  Narragansets  to  rise  against  the 
English  and  drive  them  from  the  land.  It  is  impossible  to  say 
whether  this  accusation  was  warranted  by  facts,  or  was  grounded 
on  mere  suspicions.  It  is  evident,  however,  by  the  violent  and 
overbearing  measures  of  the  settlers,  that  they  had  by  this  time 
begun  to  feel  conscious  of  the  rapid  increase  of  their  power, 
and  to  grow  harsh  and  inconsiderate  in  their  treatment  of  the 
natives.  They  despatched  an  armed  force  to  seize  upon  Alex- 
ander, and  to  bring  him  before  their  courts.  He  was  traced  to 
his  woodland  haunts,  and  surprised  at  a  hunting  house,  where 
he  was  reposing  with  a  band  of  his  followers,  unarmed,  after  the 
toils  of  the  chase.  The  suddenness  of  his  arrest,  and  the  out- 
rage offered  to  his  sovereign  dignity,  so  preyed  upon  the  irasci- 
ble feelings  of  this  proud  savage,  as  to  throw  him  into  a  raging 
fever ;  he  was  permitted  to  return  home  on  condition  of  sending 
his  son  as  a  pledge  for  his  reappearance  ;  but  the  blow  he  had 
received  was  fatal,  and  before  he  had  reached  his  home  he  fell 
a  victim  to  the  agonies  of  a  wounded  spirit. 

The  successor  of  Alexander  was  Metacomet,  or  King  Philip, 
as  he  was  called  by  the  settlers,  on  account  of  his  lofty  spirit 
and  ambitious  temper.  These,  together  with  his  well-known 
energy  and  enterprise,  had  rendered  him  au  object  of  great 
jealousy  and  apprehension,  and  he  was  accused  of  having  always 
cherished  a  secret  and  implacable  hostility  towards  the  whites. 
Such  ma}*  very  probably,  and  very  naturally,  have  been  the 
case.  He  considered  them  as  originally  but  mere  intruders  into 
the  country,  who  had  presumed  upon  indulgence,  and  were  ex- 
tending an  influence  baneful  to  savage  life.  He  saw  the  whole 
race  of  his  countrymen  melting  before  them  from  the  face  of 
the  earth ;  their  territories  slipping  from  their  hands,  and  their 
tribes  becoming  feeble,  scattered,  and  dependent.  It  may  be 
said  that  the  soil  was  originally  purchased  by  the  settlers  ;  but 
who  does  not  know  the  nature  of  Indian  purchases,  in  the  early 
periods  of  colonization?  The  Europeans  always  made  thrifty 
bargains,  through  their  superior  adroitness  in  traffic ;  and  they 
gained  vast  accessions  of  territory,  by  easily-provoked  hostili- 
ties. An  uncultivated  savage  is  never  a  nice  inquirer  into  the 
refinements  of  law,  by  which  an  injury  may  be  gradually  and 
legall}r  inflicted.  Leading  facts  are  all  by  which  he  judges  ; 
and  it  was  enough  for  Philip  to  know,  that  before  the  intrusion 
of  the  Europeans  his  countrymen  were  lords  of  the  soil,  and 


PHILIP    OF  POKANOKET.  223 

that  now  they  were  becoming  vagabonds  in  the  land  of  their 
fathers. 

But  whatever  may  have  been  his  feelings  of  general  hostility, 
and  his  particular  indignation  at  the  treatment  of  his  brother, 
he  suppressed  them  for  the  present ;  renewed  the  contract  with 
the  settlers,  and  resided  peaceably  for  many  years  at  Pokano- 
ket,  or,  as  it  was  called  by  the  English,  Mount  Hope,1  the  an- 
cient seat  of  dominion  of  his  tribe.  Suspicions,  however, 
which  were  at  first  but  vague  and  indefinite,  began  to  acquire 
form  and  substance ;  and  he  was  at  length  charged  with  at- 
tempting to  instigate  the  various  eastern  tribes  to  rise  at  once, 
and,  by  a  simultaneous  effort,  to  throw  off  the  yoke  of  their 
oppressors.  It  is  difficult  at  this  distant  period  to  assign  the 
proper  credit  due  to  these  early  accusations  against  the  Indians. 
There  was  a  proneness  to  suspicion,  and  an  aptness  to  acts 
of  violence  on  the  part  of  the  whites,  that  gave  weight  and 
importance  to  every  idle  tale.  Informers  abounded,  where  tale- 
bearing met  with  countenance  and  reward  ;  and  the  sword  was 
readily  unsheathed,  when  its  success  was  certain,  and  it  carved 
out  empire. 

The  only  positive  evidence  on  record  against  Philip  is  the 
accusation  of  one  Sausaman,  a  renegado  Indian,  whose  natural 
cunning  had  been  quickened  by  a  partial  education  which  he 
had  received  among  the  settlers.  He  changed  his  faith  and  his 
allegiance  two  or  three  times,  with  a  facility  that  evinced  the 
looseness  of  his  principles.  He  had  acted  for  some  time  as 
Philip's  confidential  secretary  and  counsellor,  and  had  enjoyed 
his  bounty  and  protection.  Finding,  however,  that  the  clouds 
of  adversity  were  gathering  round  his  patron,  he  abandoned 
his  service  and  went  over  to  the  whites ;  and,  in  order  to  gain 
their  favor,  charged  his  former  benefactor  with  plotting  against 
their  safety.  A  rigorous  investigation  took  place.  Philip  and 
several  of  his  subjects  submitted  to  be  examined,  but  nothing 
was  proved  against  them.  The  settlers,  however,  had  now 
gone  too  far  to  retract ;  they  had  previously  determined  that 
Philip  was  a  dangerous  neighbor ;  they  had  publicly  evinced 
their  distrust ;  and  had  done  enough  to  insure  his  hostility ; 
according,  therefore,  to  the  usual  mode  of  reasoning  in  these 
cases,  his  destruction  had  become  necessary  to  their  security. 
Sausaman,  the  treacherous  informer,  was  shortly  afterwards 
found  dead  in  a  pond,  having  fallen  a  victim  to  the  vengeance  of 
his  tribe.  Three  Indians,  one  of  whom  was  a  friend  and  counsel- 

1  Xow  Bristol,  Rhode  Island. 


224  THE  SKETCH-ROOK. 

lor  of  Philip,  were  apprehended  and  tried,  and,  on  the  testimony 
of  one  very  questionable  witness,  were  condemned  and  executed 
as  murderers. 

This  treatment  of  his  subjects  and  ignominious  punishment 
of  his  friend,  outraged  the  pride  and  exasperated  the  passions 
of  Philip.  The  bolt  which  had  fallen  thus  at  his  very  feet, 
awakened  him  to  the  gathering  storm,  and  he  determined  to 
trust  himself  no  longer  in  the  power  of  the  white  men.  The 
fate  of  his  insulted  and  broken-hearted  brother  still  rankled  in 
his  mind  ;  and  he  had  a  further  warning  in  the  tragical  story  of 
Miantonimo,  a  great  sachem  of  the  Narragansets,  who,  after 
manfully  facing  his  accusers  before  a  tribunal  of  the  colonists, 
exculpating  himself  from  a  charge  of  conspiracy,  and  receiving 
assurances  of  amity,  had  been  perfidiously  despatched  at  their  in- 
stigation. Philip,  therefore,  gathered  his  fighting  men  about  him  ; 
persuaded  all  strangers  that  he  could,  to  join  his  cause  ;  'sent  the 
women  and  children  to  the  Narragansets  for  safety ;  and  wher- 
ever he  appeared,  was  continually  surrounded  by  armed  warriors. 

When  the  two  parties  were  thus  in  a  state  of  distrust  and 
irritation,  the  least  spark  was  sufficient  to  set  them  in  a  flame. 
The  Indians,  having  weapons  in  their  hands,  grew  mischievous, 
and  committed  various  petty  depredations.  In  one  of  their 
maraudings,  a  warrior  was  fired  on  and  killed  by  a  settler. 
This  was  the  signal  for  open  hostilities ;  the  Indians  pressed  to 
revenge  the  death  of  their  comrade,  and  the  alarm  of  war 
resounded  through  the  Plymouth  colony. 

In  the  early  chronicles  of  these  dark  and  melancholy  times, 
we  meet  with  many  indications  of  the  diseased  state  of  the 
public  mind.  The  gloom  of  religious  abstraction,  and  the  wild- 
ness  of  their  situation,  among  trackless  forests  and  savage 
tribes,  had  disposed  the  colonists  to  superstitious  fancies,  and 
had  filled  their  imaginations  with  the  frightful  chimeras  of 
witchcraft  and  spectrology.  They  were  much  given  also  to  a 
belief  in  omens.  The  troubles  with  Philip  and  his  Indians 
were  preceded,  we  are  told,  by  a  variety  of  those  awful  warn- 
ings which  forerun  great  and  public  calamities.  The  perfect 
form  of  an  Indian  bow  appeared  in  the  air  at  New-Plymouth, 
which  was  looked  upon  by  the  inhabitants  as  a  "  prodigious 
apparition."  At  Hadley,  Northampton,  and  other  towns  in 
their  neighborhood,  u  was  heard  the  report  of  a  great  piece  of 
ordnance,  with  the  shaking  of  the  earth  and  a  considerable 
echo."1  Others  were  alarmed  on  a  still  sunshiny  morning,  by 

1  The  Rev.  Increase  Mather's  History. 


PHILIP   OF  POKANOKET.  225 

the  discharge  of  guns  and  muskets ;  bullets  seemed  to  whistle 
past  them,  and  the  noise  of  drums  resounded  in  the  air,  seem 
ing  to  pass  away  to  the  westward ;  others  fancied  that  they 
heard  the  galloping  of  horses  over  their  heads ;  and  certain 
monstrous  births  which  took  place  about  the  time,  filled  the 
superstitious  in  some  towns  with  doleful  forebodings.  Many 
of  these  portentous  sights'  and  sounds  may  be  ascribed  to 
natural  phenomena ;  to  the  northern  lights  which  occur  vividly 
in  those  latitudes  ;  the  meteors  which  explode  in  the  air ;  the 
casual  rushing  of  a  blast  through  the  top  branches  of  the  forest ; 
the  crash  of  falling  trees  or  disrupted  rocks  ;  and  to  those  other 
uncouth  sounds  and  echoes,  which  will  sometimes  strike  the 
ear  so  strangely  amidst  the  profound  stillness  of  woodland  soli- 
tudes. These  may  have  startled  some  melancholy  imaginations, 
may  have  been  exaggerated  by  the  love  for  the  marvellous,  and 
listened  to  with  that  avidity  with  which  we  devour  whatever 
is  fearful  and  mysterious.  The  universal  currency  of  these 
superstitious  fancies,  and  the  grave  record  made  of  them  by  one 
of  the  learned  men  of  the  day,  are  strongly  characteristic  of  the 
times. 

The  nature  of  the  contest  that  ensued  was  such  as  too  often 
distinguishes  the  warfare  between  civilized  men  and  savages. 
On  the  part  of  the  whites,  it  was  conducted  with  superior  skill 
and  success  ;  but  with  a  wastefulness  of  the  blood,  and  a  disre- 
gard of  the  natural  rights  of  their  antagonists :  on  the  part  of 
the  Indians  it  was  waged  with  the  desperation  of  men  fearless 
of  death,  and  who  had  nothing  to  expect  from  peace,  but  hu- 
miliation, dependence,  and  decay. 

The  events  of  the  war  are  transmitted  to  us  by  a  worthy 
clergyman  of  the  time,  who  dwells  with  horror  and  indignation 
on  every  hostile  act  of  the  Indians,  however  justifiable,  whilst 
he  mentions  with  applause  the  most  sanguinary  atrocities  of 
the  whites.  Philip  is  reviled  as  a  murderer  and  a  traitor; 
without  considering  that  he  was  a  true-born  prince,  gallantly 
fighting  at  the  head  of  his  subjects  to  avenge  the  wrongs  of  his 
family  ;  to  retrieve  the  tottering  power  of  his  line  ;  and  to  de- 
liver his  native  land  from  the  oppression  of  usurping  strangers. 

The  project  of  a  wide  and  simultaneous  revolt,  if  such  had 
really  been  formed,  was  worthy  of  a  capacious  mind,  and,  had 
it  not  been  prematurely  discovered,  might  have  been  over- 
whelming in  its  consequences.  The  war  that  actually  broke 
out  was  but  a  war  of  detail ;  a  mere  succession  of  casual  ex- 
ploits and  unconnected  enterprises.  Still  it  sets  forth  the 
military  genius  and  daring  prowess  of  Philip  ;  and  wherever,  in 


226  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

the  prejudiced  and  passionate  narrations  that  have  been  given 
of  it,  we  can  arrive  at  simple  facts,  we  find  him  displaying  a 
vigorous  mind  ;  a  fertility  of  expedients  ;  a  contempt  of  suffer- 
ing and  hardship ;  and  an  unconquerable  resolution,  that  com- 
mand our  sympathy  and  applause. 

Driven  from  his  paternal  domains  at  Mount  Hope,  he  threw 
himself  into  the  depths  of  those  vast  and  trackless  forests  that 
skirted  the  settlements,  and  were  almost  impervious  to  any 
thing  but  a  wild  beast  or  an  Indian.  Here  he  gathered  to- 
gether his  forces,  like  the  storm  accumulating  its  stores  of  mis- 
chief in  the  bosom  of  the  thunder-cloud,  and  would  suddenly 
emerge  at  a  time  and  place  least  expected,  carrying  havoc  and 
dismay  into  the  villages.  There  were  now  and  then  indications 
of  these  impending  ravages,  that  filled  the  minds  of  the  colo- 
nists with  awe  and  apprehension.  The  report  of*  a  distant  gun 
would  perhaps  be  heard  from  the  solitary  woodland,  where 
there  was  known  to  be  no  white  man  ;  the  cattle  which  had 
been  wandering  in  the  woods  would  sometimes  return  home 
wounded ;  or  an  Indian  or  two  would  be  seen  lurking  about 
the  skirts  of  the  forest,  and  suddenly  disappearing ;  as  the 
lightning  will  sometimes  be  seen  playing  silently  about  the  edge 
of  the  cloud  that  is  brewing  up  the  tempest. 

Though  sometimes  pursued,  and  even  surrounded  by  the 
settlers,  3Tet  Philip  as  often  escaped  almost  miraculously  from 
their  toils ;  and  plunging  into  the  wilderness,  would  be  lost  to 
all  search  or  inquiry  until  he  again  emerged  at  some  far  dis- 
tant quarter,  laying  the  country  desolate.  Among  his  strong- 
holds were  the  great  swamps  or  morasses,  which  extend  in 
some  parts  of  New-E)ngland ;  composed  of  loose  bogs  of  deep 
black  mud  ;  perplexed  with  thickets,  brambles,  rank  weeds, 
the  shattered  and  mouldering  trunks  of  fallen  trees,  over- 
shadowed by  lugubrious  hemlocks.  The  uncertain  footing  and 
the  tangled  mazes  of  these  shaggy  wilds,  rendered  them  almost 
impracticable  to  the  white  man,  though  the  Indian  could 
thrid  their  labyrinths  with  the  agility  o*f  a  deer.  Into  one  of 
these,  the  great  swamp  of  Pocasset  Neck,  was  Philip  once 
driven  with  a  band  of  his  followers.  The  English  did  not  dare 
to  pursue  him,  fearing  to  venture  into  these  dark  and  frightful 
recesses,  where  they  might  perish  in  fens  and  miry  pits,  or  be 
shot  down  by  lurking  foes.  They  therefore  invested  the  en- 
trance to  the  neck,  and  began  to  build  a  fort,  with  the  thought 
of  starving  out  the  foe ;  but  Philip  and  his  warriors  wafted 
themselves  on  a  raft  over  an  arm  of  the  sea,  in  the  dead  of 
night,  leaving  the  women  and  children  behind ;  and  escaped 


PHILIP   OF  POKANOEET.  227 

away  to  the  westward,  kindling  the  flames  of  war  among  the 
tribes  of  Massachusetts  and  the  Nipmnck  country,  and  threat- 
ening the  colony -of  Connecticut. 

In  this  way  Philip  became  a  theme  of  universal  apprehen- 
sion. The  mystery  in  which  he  was  enveloped  exaggerated 
his  real  terrors.  He  was  an  evil  that  walked  in  darkness  ;  whose 
coming  none  could  foresee,  and  against  which  none  knew 
when  to  be  on  the  alert.  The  whole  country  abounded  with 
rumors  and  alarms.  Philip  seemed  almost  possessed  of  ubiq- 
uity ;  for,  in  whatever  part  of  the  widely  extended  frontier 
an  irruption  from  the  forest  took  place,  Philip  was  said  to  be 
its  leader.  Many  superstitious  notions  also  were  circulated 
concerning  him.  He  was  said  to  deal  in  necromancy,  and  to 
be  attended  by  an  old  Indian  witch  or  prophetess,  whom  he 
consulted,  and  who  assisted  him  by  her  charms  and  incanta- 
tions. This  indeed  was  frequently  the  case  with  Indian  chiefs ; 
either  through  their  own  credulit}',  or  to  act  upon  that  of  their 
followers :  and  the  influence  of  the  prophet  and  the  dreamer 
over  Indian  superstition  has  been  fully  evidenced  in  recent 
instances  of  savage  warfare. 

At  the  time  that  Philip  effected  his  escape  from  Pocasset, 
his  fortunes  were  in  a  desperate  condition.  His  forces  had 
been  thinned  by  repeated  fights,  and  he  had  lost  almost  the 
whole  of  his  resources.  In  this  time  of  adversity  he  found  a 
faithful  friend  in  Canonchet,  Chief  Sachem  of  all  the  Narra- 
gansets.  He  was  the  son  and  heir  of  Miantonimo,  the  great 
Sachem,  who,  as  already  mentioned,  after  an  honorable  ac- 
quital  of  the  charge  of  conspiracy,  had  been  privately  put  to 
death  at  the  perfidious  instigations  of  the  settlers.  "•  He  was 
the  heir,"  says  the  old  chronicler,  "  of  all  his  father's  pride  and 
insolence,  as  well  as  of  his  malice  towards  the  English;"  he 
certainly  was  the  heir  of  his  insults  and  injuries,  and  the 
legitimate  avenger  of  his  murder.  Though  he  had  forborne  to 
take  an  active  part  in  this  hopeless  war,  yet  he  received  Philip 
and  his  broken  forces  with  open  arms ;  and  gave  them  the 
most  generous  countenance  and  support.  This  at  once  drew 
upon  him  the  hostility  of  the  English ;  and  it  was  determined 
to  strike  a  signal  blow,  that  should  involve  both  the  Sachems 
in  one  common  ruin.  A  great  force  was,  therefore,  gathered 
together  from  Massachusetts,  Plymouth,  and  Connecticut,  and 
was  sent  into  the  Narraganset  country  in  the  depth  of  winter, 
when  the  swamps,  being  frozen  and  leafless,  could  be  traversed 
with  comparative  facility,  and  would  no  longer  afford  dark  and 
impenetrable  fastnesses  to  the  Indians. 


228  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Apprehensive  of  attack,  Canonchet  had  conveyed  the  greater 
part  of  his  stores,  together  with  the  old,  the  infirm,  the  women 
and  children  of  his  tribe,  to  a  strong  fortress  ;  where  he  and 
Philip  had  likewise  drawn  up  the  flower  of  their  forces.  This 
fortress,  deemed  by  the  Indians  impregnable,  was  situated 
upon  a  rising  mound  or  kind  of  island,  of  five  or  six  acres,  in 
the  midst  of  a  swamp ;  it  was  constructed  with  a  degree  of 
judgment  and  skill  vastly  superior  to  what  is  usually  displayed 
in  Indian  fortification,  and  indicative  of  the  martial  genius  of 
these  two  chieftains. 

Guided  by  a  renegade  Indian,  the  English  penetrated,  through 
December  snows,  to  this  stronghold,  and  came  upon  the  garri- 
son by  surprise.  The  fight  was  fierce  and  tumultuous.  The 
assailants  were  repulsed  in  their  first  attack,  and  several  of 
their  bravest  officers  were  shot  down  in  the  act  of  storming  the 
fortress,  sword  in  hand.  The  assault  was  renewed  with  greater 
success.  A  lodgement  was  effected.  The  Indians  were  driven 
from  one  post  to  another.  They  disputed  their  ground  inch  by 
inch,  fighting  with  the  fury  of  despair.  Most  of  their  veterans 
were  cut  to  pieces ;  and  after  a  long  and  bloody  battle,  Philip 
and  Canonchet,  with  a  handful  of  surviving  warriors,  retreated 
from  the  fort,  and  took  refuge  in  the  thickets  of  the  surround- 
ing forest. 

The  victors  set  fire  to  the  wigwams  and  the  fort;  the  whole 
was  soon  in  a  blaze ;  many  of  the  old  men,  the  women  and  the 
children,  perished  in  the  flames.  This  last  outrage  overcame 
even  the  stoicism  of  the  savage.  The  neighboring  woods  re- 
sounded with  the  yells  of  rage  and  despair,  uttered  by  the  fugi- 
tive warriors  as  they  beheld  the  destruction  of  their  dwellings, 
and  heard  the  agonizing  cries  of  their  wives  and  offspring. 
"The  burning  of  the  wigwams,"  says  a  contemporary  writer, 
"  the  shrieks  and  cries  of  the  women  and  children,  and  the  yell- 
ing of  the  warriors,  exhibited  a  most  horrible  and  affecting 
scene,  so  that  it  greatly  moved  some  of  the  soldiers."  The 
same  writer  cautiously  adds,  "  they  were  in  much  doubt  then, 
and  afterwards  seriously  inquired,  whether  burning  their  ene- 
mies alive  could  be  consistent  with  humanity,  and  the  benevo- 
lent principles  of  the  gospel."  1 

The  fate  of  the  brave  and  generous  Canonchet  is  worthy  of 
particular  mention :  the  last  scene  of  his  life  is  one  of  the 
noblest  instances  on  record  of  Indian  magnanimity. 

Broken  down  in  his  power  and  resources  by  this  signal  de- 

i  MS.  of  the  Rev.  W.  Ruggles. 


PHILIP   OF  POKANOKET.  229 

feat,  yet  faithful  to  his  ally  and  to  the  hapless  cause  which  he 
had  espoused,  he  rejected  all  overtures  of  peace,  offered  on  con- 
dition of  betiding  Philip  and  his  followers,  and  declared  that 
"  he  would  fight  it  out  to  the  last  man,  rather  than  become  a 
servant  to  the  English.'*  His  home  being  destroyed ;  his  coun- 
try harassed  and  laid  waste  by  the  incursions  of  the  conquerors  ; 
he  was  obliged  to  wander  away  to  the  banks  of  the  Connecti- 
cut ;  where  he  formed  a  rallying  point  to  the  whole  body  of 
western  Indians,  and  laid  waste  several  of  the  English  settle- 
ments. 

Early  in  the  spring,  he  departed  on  a  hazardous  expedition, 
with  only  thirty  chosen  men,  to  penetrate  to  Seaconck,  in  the 
vicinity  of  Mount  Hope,  and  to  procure  seed-corn  to  plant  for 
the  sustenance  of  his  troops.  This  little  band  of  adventurers 
had  passed  safely  through  the  Pequod  country,  and  were  in  the 
centre  of  the  Narraganset,  resting  at  some  wigwams  near  Paw- 
tucket  river,  when  an  alarm  was  given  of  an  approaching 
enemy.  Having  but  seven  men  by  him  at  the  time,  Canonchet 
despatched  two  of  them  to  the  top  of  a  neighboring  hill,  to 
bring  intelligence  of  the  foe. 

Panic-struck  by  .the  appearance  of  a  troop  of  English  and 
Indians  rapidly  advancing,  they  fled  in  breathless  terror  past 
their  chieftain,  without  stopping  to  inform  him  of  the  danger. 
Canonchet  sent  another  scout,  wrho  did  the  same.  He  then 
sent  two  more,  one  of  whom,  hurrying  back  in  confusion  and 
affright,  told  him  that  the  whole  British  army  was  at  hand. 
Canonchet  saw  there  was  no  choice  but  immediate  flight.  He 
attempted  to  escape  round  the  hill,  but  was  perceived  and  hotly 
pursued  by  the  hostile  Indians,  and  a  few  of  the  fleetest  of  the 
English.  Finding  the  swiftest  pursuer  close  upon  his  heels,  he 
threw  off,  first  his  blanket,  then  his  silver-laced  coat  and  belt 
of  peag,  by  which  his  enemies  knew  him  to  be  Canonchet,  and 
redoubled  the  eagerness  of  pursuit. 

At  length,  in  dashing  through  the  river,  his  foot  slipped  upon 
a  stone,  and  he  fell  so  deep  as  to  wet  his  gun.  This  accident 
so  struck  him  with  despair,  that,  as  he  afterwards  confessed, 
"  his  heart  and  his  bowels  turned  within  him,  and  he  became 
like  a  rotten  stick,  void  of  strength." 

To  such  a  degree  was  he  unnerved,  that,  being  seized  by  a 
Pequod  Indian  within  a  short  distance  of  the  river,  he  made  no 
resistance,  though  a  man  of  great  vigor  of  body  and  boldness 
of  heart.  But  on  being  made  prisoner,  the  whole  pride  of  his 
spirit  arose  within  him ;  and  from  that  moment,  we  find,  in  the 
anecdotes  given  by  his  enemies,  nothing  but  repeated  flashes 


230  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Df  elevated  and  prince-like  heroism.  Being  questioned  by  one 
of  the  English  who  first  came  up  with  him,  and  who  had  not 
attained  his  twenty-second  year,  the  proud-hearted  warrior, 
looking  with  lofty  contempt  upon  his  youthful  countenance,  re- 
plied, "You  are  a  child  —  you  cannot  understand  matters  of 
war  —  let  your  brother  or  your  chief  come  —  him  will  I  answer." 

Though  repeated  offers  were  made  to  him  of  his  life,  on  con- 
dition of  submitting  with  his  nation  to  the  English,  yet  he 
rejected  them  with  disdain,  and  refused  to  send  any  proposals 
of  the  kind  to  the  great  body  of  his  subjects ;  saying,  that  he 
knew  none  of  them  would  comply.  Being  reproached  with  his 
breach  of  faith  towards  the  whites  ;  his  boast  that  he  would  not 
deliver  up  a  Wampanoag,  nor  the  parings  of  a  Wampanoag's 
nail ;  and  his  threat  that  he  would  burn  the  English  alive  in 
their  houses,  he  disdained  to  justify  himself,  haughtily  answer- 
ing that  others  were  as  forward  for  the  war  as  himself,  "  and 
he  desired  to  hear  no  more  thereof." 

So  noble  and  unshaken  a  spirit,  so  true  a  fidelity  to  his  cause 
and  his  friend,  might  have  touched  the  feelings  of  the  generous 
and  the  brave  ;  but  Canonchet  was  an  Indian  ;  a  being  towards 
whom  war  had  no  courtesy,  humanity  no  law,  religion  no  com- 
passion —  he  was  condemned  to  die.  The  last  words  of  his  that 
are  recorded,  are  worthy  the  greatness  of  his  soul.  When  sen- 
tence of  death  was  passed  upon  him,  he  observed,  "that  he 
liked  it  well,  for  he  should  die  before  his  heart  was  soft,  or  he 
had  spoken  any  thing  unworthy  of  himself."  His  enemies  gave 
him  the  death  of  a  soldier,  for  he  was  shot  at  Stoningham,  by 
three  young  Sachems  of  his  own  rank. 

The  defeat  of  the  Narraganset  fortress,  and  the  death  of 
Canonchet,  were  fatal  blows  to  the  fortunes  of  King  Philip. 
He  made  an  ineffectual  attempt  to  raise  a  head  of  war,  by  stir- 
ring up  the  Mohawks  to  take  arms ;  but  though  possessed  of 
the  native  talents  of  a  statesman,  his  arts  were  counteracted  by 
the  superior  arts  of  his  enlightened  enemies,  and  the  terror  of 
their  warlike  skill  began  to  subdue  the  resolution  of  the  neigh- 
boring tribes.  The  unfortunate  chieftain  saw  himself  daily 
stripped  of  power,  and  his  ranks  rapidly  thinning  around  him. 
Some  were  suborned  by  the  whites  ;  others  fell  victims  to  hun- 
ger and  fatigue,  and  to  the  frequent  attacks  by  which  they  were 
harassed.  His  stores  were  all  captured ;  his  chosen  friends 
were  swept  away  from  before  his  eyes  ;  his  uncle  was  shot  down 
by  his  side  ;  his  sister  was  carried  into  captivity  ;  and  in  one  of 
his  narrow  escapes  he  was  compelled  to  leave  his  beloved  wife 
and  only  son  to  the  mercy  of  the  enemy.  "His  ruin,"  says 


PHILIP   OF  POKANOKET.  231 

the  historian,  "  being  thus  gradually  carried  on,  his  misery  was 
not  prevented,  but  augmented  thereby ;  being  himself  made  ac- 
quainted with  the  sense  and  experimental  feeling  of  the  cap- 
tivity of  his  children,  loss  of  friends,  slaughter  of  his  subjects, 
bereavement  of  all  family  relations,  and  being  stripped  of  all 
outward  comforts,  before  his  own  life  should  be  taken  away." 

To  fill  up  the  measure  of  his  misfortunes,  his  own  followers 
began  to  plot  against  his  life,  that  by  sacrificing  him  they  might 
purchase  dishonorable  safety.  Through  treachery,  a  number 
of  his  faithful  adherents,  the  subjects  of  Wetamoe,  an  Indian 
princess  of  Pocasset,  a  near  kinswoman  and  confederate  of 
Philip,  were  betrayed  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy.  Wetamoe 
was  among  them  at  the  time,  and  attempted  to  make  her  escape 
by  crossing  a  neighboring  river  :  either  exhausted  by  swimming, 
or  starved  by  cold  and  hunger,  she  wafe  found  dead  and  naked 
near  the  water  side.  But  persecution  ceased  not  at  the  grave  : 
even  death,  the  refuge  of  the  wretched,  where  the  wicked  com- 
monly cease  from  troubling,  was  no  protection  to  this  outcast 
female,  whose  great  crime  was  affectionate  fidelity  to  her  kins- 
man and  her  friend.  Her  corpse  was  the  object  of  unmanly 
and  dastardly  vengeance  ;  the  head  was  severed  from  the  body 
and  set  upon  a  pole,  and  was  thus  exposed,  at  Taunton,  to  the 
view  of  her  captive  subjects.  They  immediately  recognized 
the  features  of  their  unfortunate  queen,  and  were  so  affected  at 
this  barbarous  spectacle,  that  we  are  told  they  broke  forth  into 
the  "  most  horrid  and  diabolical  lamentations." 

However  Philip  had  borne  up  against  the  complicated  mis- 
eries and  misfortunes  that  surrounded  him,  the  treachery  of  his 
followers  seemed  to  wring  his  heart  and  reduce  him  to  despond- 
ency. It  is  said  that  "  he  never  rejoiced  afterwards,  nor  had 
success  in  any  of  his  designs."  The  spring  of  hope  was  broken 
—  the  ardor  of  enterprise  was  extinguished:  he  looked  around, 
and  all  was  danger  and  darkness ;  there  was  no  eye  to  pity,  nor 
any  arm  that  could  bring  deliverance.  With  a  scanty  band  of 
followers,  who  still  remained  true  to  his  desperate  fortunes,  the 
unhappy  Philip  wandered  back  to  the  vicinity  of  Mount  Hope, 
the  ancient  dwelling  of  his  fathers.  Here  he  lurked  about,  like 
a  spectre,  among  the  scenes  of  former  power  and  prosperity, 
now  bereft  of  home,  of  family,  and  friend.  There  needs  no 
better  picture  of  his  destitute  and  piteous  situation,  than  that 
furnished  by  the  homely  pen  of  the  chronicler,  who  is  unwarily 
enlisting  the  feelings  of  the  reader  in  favor  of  the  hapless  war- 
rior whom  he  reviles.  "  Philip,"  he  saj^s,  "  like  a  savage  wild 
beast,  having  been  hunted  by  the  English  forces  through  the 


232  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

woods  above  a  hundred  miles  backward  and  forward,  at  last 
was  driven  to  his  own  den  upon  Mount  Hope,  where  he  retired, 
with  a  few  of  his  best  friends,  into  a  swamp,  which  proved  but 
a  prison  to  keep  him  fast  till  the  messengers  of  death  came  by 
divine  permission  to  execute  vengeance  upon  him." 

Even  in  this  last  refuge  of  desperation  and  despair,  a  sullen 
grandeur  gathers  round  his  memory.  We  picture  him  to  our- 
selves seated  among  his  care-worn  followers,  brooding  in  silence 
over  his  blasted  fortunes,  and  acquiring  a  savage  sublimity 
from  the  wildness  and  dreariness  of  his  lurking-place.  De- 
feated, but  not  disma}-ed  —  crushed  to  the  earth,,  but  not 
humiliated  —  he  seemed  to  grow  more  haughty  beneath  disas- 
ter, and  to  experience  a  fierce  satisfaction  in  draining  the  last 
dregs  of  bitterness.  Little  minds  are  tamed  and  subdued  bjT 
misfortune  ;  but  great  minds  rise  above  it.  The  very  idea  of 
submission  awakened  the  fury  of  Philip,  and  he  smote" to  death 
one  of  his  followers,  who  proposed  an  expedient  of  peace.  The 
brother  of  the  victim  made  his  escape,  and  in  revenge  betrayed 
the  retreat  of  his  chieftain.  A  body  of  white  men  and  Indians 
were  immediately  despatched  to  the  swamp  where  Philip  lay 
crouched,  glaring  with  fury  and  despair.  Before  he  was  aware 
of  their  approach,  they  had  begun  to  surround  him.  In  a  little 
while  he  saw  five  of  his  trustiest  followers  laid  dead  at  his  feet ; 
all  resistance  was  vain ;  he  rushed  forth  from  his  covert,  and 
made  a  headlong  attempt  at  escape,  but  was  shot  through  the 
heart  by  a  renegado  Indian  of  his  own  nation. 

Such  is  the  scanty  story  of  the  brave,  but  unfortunate  King 
Philip  ;  persecuted  while  living,  slandered  and  dishonored  when 
dead.  If,  however,  we  consider  even  the  prejudiced  anecdotes 
furnished  us  by  his  enemies,  we  may  perceive  in  them  traces  of 
amiable  and  lofty  character,  sufficient  to  awaken  sympathy  for 
his  fate  and  respect  for  his  memory.  We  find,  that  amidst  all 
the  harassing  cares  and  ferocious  passions  of  constant  warfare, 
he  was  alive  to  the  softer  feelings  of  connubial  love  and 
paternal  tenderness,  and  to  the  generous  sentiment  of  friend- 
ship. The  captivity  of  his  "beloved  wife  and  only  son"  is 
mentioned  with  exultation,  as  causing  him  poignant  misery : 
the  death  of  any  near  friend  is  triumphantly  recorded  as  a  new 
blow  on  his  sensibilities  ;  but  the  treachery  and  desertion  of 
many  of  his  followers,  in  whose  affections  he  had  confided,  is 
said  to  have  desolated  his  heart,  and  to  have  bereaved  him  of 
all  further  comfort.  He  was  a  patriot,  attached  to  his  native 
soil  —  a  prince  true  to  his  subjects,  and  indignant  of  their 
wrongs  —  a  soldier,  daring  in  battle,  firm  in  adversity,  patient 


JOHN  BULL.  233 

of  fatigue,  of  hunger,  of  every  variety  of  bodily  suffering,  and 
ready  to  perish  in  the  cause  he  had  espoused.  Proud  of  heart, 
and  with  an  untamable  love  of  natural  liberty,  he  preferred  to 
enjoy  it  among  the  beasts  of  the  forests,  or  in  the  dismal  and 
famished  recesses  of  swamps  and  morasses,  rather  than  bow 
his  haughty  spirit  to  submission,  and  live  dependent  and  de- 
spised in  the  ease  and  luxury  of  the  settlements.  With  heroic 
qualities  and  bold  achievements  that  would  have  graced  a 
civilized  warrior,  and  have  rendered  him  the  theme  of  the  poet 
and  the  historian,  he  lived  a  wanderer  and  a  fugitive  in  his 
native  land,  and  went  down,  like  a  lonely  bark,  foundering 
amid  darkness  and  tempest  —  without  a  pitying  eye  to  weep  his 
fall,  or  a  friendly  hand  to  record  his  struggle. 


JOHN   BULL. 

An  old  song,  made  by  an  aged  old  pate, 

Of  an  old  worshipful  gentleman  who  had  a  great  estate, 

That  kept  a  brave  old  house  at  a  bountiful  rate, 

And  an  old  porter  to  relieve  the  poor  at  his  gate. 

With  an  old  study  filled  full  of  learned  old  books, 

With  an  old  reverend  chaplain,  you  might  know  him  by  his  looks, 

With  an  old  buttery-hatch  worn  quite  off  the  hooks, 

And  an  old  kitchen  that  maintained  half-a-dozen  old  cooks. 

Like  an  old  courtier,  etc.  —  Old  Song. 

THERE  is  no  species  of  humor  in  which  the  English  more 
excel,  than  that  which  consists  in  caricaturing  and  giving 
ludicrous  appellations  or  nicknames.  In  this  way  they  have 
whimsically  designated,  not  merely  individuals,  but  nations  ; 
and  in  their  fondness  for  pushing  a  joke,  they  have  not  spared 
even  themselves.  One  would  think  that,  in  personifying  itself, 
a  nation  would  be  apt  to  picture  something  grand,  heroic,  and 
imposing ;  but  it  is  characteristic  of  the  peculiar  humor  of  the 
English,  and  of  their  love  for  what  is  blunt,  comic,  and 
familiar,  that  they  have  embodied  their  national  oddities  in 
the  figure  of  a  sturdy,  corpulent  old  fellow,  with  a  three- 
cornered  hat,  red  waistcoat,  leather  breeches,  and  stout  oaken 
cudgel.  Thus  they  have  taken  a  singular  delight  in  exhibiting 
their  most  private  foibles  in  a  laughable  point  of  view ;  and 
have  been  so  successful  in  their  delineations,  that  there  is 


234  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

scarcely  a  being  in  actual  existence  more  absolutely  present 
to  the  public  mind,  than  that  eccentric  personage,  John  Bull. 

Perhaps  the  continual  contemplation  of  the  character  thus 
drawn  of  them,  has  contributed  to  fix  it  upon  the  nation  ;  and 
thus  to  give  reality  to  what  at  first  may  have  been  painted  in  a 
great  measure  from  the  imagination.  Men  are  apt  to  acquire 
peculiarities  that  are  continually  ascribed  to  them.  The  com- 
mon orders  of  English  seem  wonderfully  captivated  with  the 
beau  ideal  which  they  have  formed  of  John  Bull,  and  endeavor 
to  act  up  to  the  broad  caricature  that  is  perpetually  before  their 
eyes.  Unluckily,  they  sometimes  make  their  boasted  Bull-ism 
an  apology  for  their  prejudice  or  grossness ;  and  this  I  have 
especially  noticed  among  those  truly  homebred  and  genuine 
sons  of  the  soil  who  have  never  migrated  beyond  the  sound  of 
Bow-bells.  If  one  of  these  should  be  a  little  uncouth  in  speech, 
and  apt  to  utter  impertinent  truths,  he  confesses  that  he  is  a 
real  John  Bull,  and  always  speaks  his  mind.  If  he  now  and 
then  flies  into  an  unreasonable  burst  of  passion  about  trifles, 
he  observes  that  John  Bull  is  a  choleric  old  blade,  but  then  his 
passion  is  over  in  a  moment,  and  he  bears  no  malice.  If  he 
betrays  a  coarseness  of  taste,  and  an  insensibility  to  foreign 
refinements,  he  thanks  Heaven  for  his  ignorance  —  he  is  a  plain 
John  Bull,  and  has  no  relish  for  frippery  and  knick-knacks.  His 
very  proneuess  to  be  gulled  by  strangers,  and  to  pay  extrava- 
gantly for  absurdities,  is  excused  under  the  plea  of  munificence 
—  for  John  is  always  more  generous  than  wise. 

Thus,  under  the  name  of  John  Bull,  he  will  contrive  to  argue 
every  fault  into  a  merit,  and  will  frankly  convict  himself  of 
being  the  honestest  fellow  in  existence. 

However  little,  therefore,  the  character  may  have  suited  in 
the  first  instance,  it  has  gradually  adapted  itself  to  the  nation, 
or  rather  they  have  adapted  themselves  to  each  other ;  and  a 
stranger  who  wishes  to  study  English  peculiarities,  may  gather 
much  valuable  information  from  the  innumerable  portraits  of 
John  Bull,  as  exhibited  in  the  windows  of  the  caricature-shops. 
Still,  however,  he  is  one  of  those  fertile  humorists,  that  are 
continually  throwing  out  new  portraits,  and  presenting  differ- 
ent aspects  from  different  points  of  view  ;  and,  often  as  he  has 
been  described,  I  cannot  resist  the  temptation  to  give  a  slight 
sketch  of  him,  such  as  he  has  met  my  eye. 

John  Bull,  to  all  appearance,  is  a  plain  downright  matter-of- 
fact  fellow,  with  much  less  of  poetry  about  him  than  rich  prose. 
There  is  little  of  romance  in  his  nature,  but  a  vast  deal  of 
strong  natural  feeling.  He  excels  in  humor  more  than  in  wit ; 


JOHN  BULL.  235 

is  jolly  rather  than  gay ;  melancholy  rather  than  morose ;  can 
easily  be  moved  to  a  sudden  tear,  or  surprised  into  a  broad 
laugh  ;  but  he  loathes  sentiment,  and  has  no  turn  for  light  pleas- 
antry. He  is  a  boon  companion,  if  you  allow  him  to  have  his 
humor,  and  to  talk  about  himself  ;  and  he  will  stand  by  a  friend 
in  a  quarrel,  with  life  and  purse,  however  soundly  he  may  be 
cu,dgelled. 

In  this  last  respect,  to  tell  the  truth,  he  has  a  propensity  to 
be  somewhat  too  ready.  He  is  a  busy-minded  personage,  who 
thinks  not  merely  for  himself  and  family,  but  for  all  the  country 
round,  and  is  most  generously  disposed  to  be  everybody's  cham- 
pion. He  is  continually  volunteering  his  services  to  settle  his 
neighbors'  affairs,  and  takes  it  in  great  dudgeon  if  they  engage 
in  any  matter  of  consequence  without  asking  his  advice  ;  though 
he  seldom  engages  in  any  friendly  office  of  the  kind  without  fin- 
ishing by  getting  into  a  squabble  with  all  parties  and  then  railing 
bitterly  at  their  ingratitude.  He  unluckily  took  lessons  in  his 
youth  in  the  noble  science  of  defence,  and  having  accomplished 
himself  in  the  use  of  his  limbs  and  his  weapons,  and  become  a 
perfect  master  at  boxing  and  cudgel-play,  he  has  had  a  trouble- 
some life  of  it  ever  since.  He  cannot  hear  of  a  quarrel  between 
the  most  distant  of  his  neighbors,  but  he  begins  incontinently  to 
fumble  with  the  head  of  his  cudgel,  and  consider  whether  his 
interest  or  honor  does  not  require  that  he  should  meddle  in  the 
broil.  Indeed,  he  has  extended  his  relations  of  pride  and  policy 
BO  completely  over  the  whole  country,  that  no  event  can  take 
place,  without  infringing  some  of  his  finely-spun  rights  and 
dignities.  Couched  in  his  little  domain,  with  these  filaments 
stretching  forth  in  every  direction,  he  is  like  some  choleric, 
bottle-bellied  old  spider,  who  has  woven  his  web  over  a  whole 
chamber,  so  that  a  fly  cannot  buzz,  nor  a  breeze  blow,  without 
startling  his  repose,  and  causing  him  to  sally  forth  wrathfully 
from  his  den. 

Though  really  a  good-hearted,  good-tempered  old  fellow  at 
bottom,  yet  he  is  singularly  fond  of  being  in  the  midst  of  con- 
tention. It  is  one  of  his  peculiarities,  however,  that  he  only 
relishes  the  beginning  of  an  affray  ;  he  always  goes  into  a  fight 
with  alacrity,  but  comes  out  of  it  grumbling  even  when  victo- 
rious ;  and  though  no  one  fights  with  more  obstinacy  to  carry 
a  contested  point,  yet,  when  the  battle  is  over,  and  he  comes 
to  the  reconciliation,  he  is  so  much  taken  up  with  the  mere 
shaking  of  hands,  that  he  is  apt  to  let  his  antagonist  pocket 
all  that  they  have  been  quarrelling  about.  It  is  not,  therefore, 
fighting  that  he  ought  so  much  to  be  on  his  guard  against,  as 


236  THE   SKETCH-BOOK. 

making  friends.  It  is  difficult  to  cudgel  him  out  of  a  farthing  5 
but  put  him  in  a  good  humor,  and  you  may  bargain  him  out 
of  all  the  money  in  his  pocket.  He  is  like  a  stout  ship,  which 
will  weather  the  roughest  storm  uninjured,  but  roll  its  masts 
overboard  in  the  succeeding  calm. 

He  is  a  little  fond  of  playing  the  magnifico  abroad  ;  of  pulling 
out  a  long  purse  ;  flinging  his  monej7  bravely  about  at  boxing- 
matches,  horse-races,  cock-fights,  and  carrying  a  high  head 
among  "  gentlemen  of  the  fancy  ;  "  but  immediately  after  one 
of  these  fits  of  extravagance,  he  will  be  taken  with  violent 
qualms  of  economy  ;  stop  short  at  the  most  trivial  expenditure  ; 
talk  desperately  of  being  ruined  and  brought  upon  the  parish  ; 
and  in  such  moods  will  not  pay  the  smallest  tradesman's  bill 
without  violent  altercation.  He  is,  in  fact,  the  most  punctual 
and  discontented  paymaster  in  the  world  ;  drawing  his  coin  out 
of  his  breeches  pocket  with  infinite  reluctance  ;  paying  to  the 
uttermost  farthing,  but  accompanying  every  guinea  with  a 
growl. 

With  all  his  talk  of  economy,  however,  he  is  a  bountiful 
provider,  and  a  hospitable  housekeeper.  His  economy  is  of  a 
whimsical  kind,  its  chief  object  being  to  devise  how  he  may 
afford  to  be  extravagant ;  for  he  will  begrudge  himself  a  beef- 
steak and  pint  of  port  one  day,  that  he  may  roast  an  ox  whole, 
broach  a  hogshead  of  ale,  and  treat  all  his  neighbors  on  the 
next. 

His  domestic  establishment  is  enormously  expensive  :  not  so 
much  from  any  great  outward  parade,  as  from  the  great  con- 
sumption of  solid  beef  and  pudding ;  the  vast  number  of  fol- 
lowers he  feeds  and  clothes  ;  and  his  singular  disposition  to  pay 
hugely  for  small  services.  He  is  a  most  kind  and  indulgent 
master,  and,  provided  his  servants  humor  his  peculiarities,  flat- 
ter his  vanity  a  little  now  and  then,  and  do  not  peculate  grossly 
on  him  before  his  face,  they  may  manage  him  to  perfection. 
Every  thing  that  lives  on  him  seems  to  thrive  and  grow  fat. 
His  house  servants  are  well  paid,  and  pampered,  and  have  little 
to  do.  His  horses  are  sleek  and  lazy,  and  prance  slowly  before 
his  state  carriage  ;  and  his  house-dogs  sleep  quietly  about  the 
door,  and  will  hardly  bark  at  a  housebreaker. 

His  family  mansion  is  an  old  castellated  manor-house,  gray 
with  age,  and  of  a  most  venerable,  though  weather-beaten,  ap- 
pearance. It  has  been  built  upon  no  regular  plan,  but  is  a  vast 
accumulation  of  parts,  erected  in  various  tastes  and  ages.  The 
centre  bears  evident  traces  of  Saxon  architecture,  and  is  as 
solid  as  ponderous  stone  and  old  English  oak  can  make  it. 


JOHN  BULL.  237 

Like  all  the  relics  of  that  style,  it  is  full  of  obscure  passages, 
intricate  mazes,  and  dusky  chambers ;  and  though  these  have 
been  partially  lighted  up  in  modern  days,  yet  there  are  many 
places  where  you  must  still  grope  in  the  dark.  Additions  have 
been  made  to  the  original  edifice  from  time  to  time,  and  great 
alterations  have  taken  place ;  towers  and  battlements  have 
been  erected  during  wars  and  tumults  ;  wings  built  in  time  of 
peace  ;  and  out-houses,  lodges,  and  offices,  run  up  according  to 
the  whim  or  convenience  of  different  generations,  until  it  has 
become  one  of  the  most  spacious,  rambling  tenements  imagin- 
able. An  entire  wing  is  taken  up  with  the  family  chapel ;  a 
reverend  pile,  that  must  have  been  exceedingly  sumptuous, 
and,  indeed,  in  spite  of  having  been  altered  and  simplified 
at  various  periods,  has  still  a  look  of  solemn  religious  pomp. 
Its  walls  within  are  storied  with  the  monuments  of  John's 
ancestors  ;  and  it  is  snugly  fitted  up  with  soft  cushions  and 
well-lined  chairs,  where  such  of  his  family  as  are  inclined  to 
church  services,  may  doze  comfortably  in  the  discharge  of  their 
duties. 

To  keep  up  this  chapel,  has  cost  John  much  money ;  but  he 
is  stanch  in  his  religion,  and  piqued  in  his  zeal,  from  the  cir- 
cumstance that  many  dissenting  chapels  have  been  erected  in 
his  vicinity,  and  several  of  his  neighbors,  with  whom  he  has 
had  quarrels,  are  strong  Papists. 

To  do  the  duties  of  the  chapel,  he  maintains,  at  a  large 
expense,  a  pious  and  portly  family  chaplain.  He  is  a  most 
learned  and  decorous  personage,  and  a  truly  well-bred  Christian, 
who  always  backs  the  old  gentleman  in  his  opinions,  winks 
discreetly  at  his  little  peccadilloes,  rebukes  the  children  when 
refractory,  and  is  of  great  use  in  exhorting  the  tenants  to  read 
their  Bibles,  say  their  prayers,  and,  above  all,  to  pay  their  rents 
punctually,  and  without  grumbling. 

The  family  apartments  are  in  a  very  antiquated  taste,  some- 
what heavy,  and  often  inconvenient,  but  full  of  the  solemn 
magnificence  of  former  times  ;  fitted  up  with  rich,  though  faded 
tapestry,  unwieldy  furniture,  and  loads  of  massy,  gorgeous  old 
plate.  The  vast  fireplaces,  ample  kitchens,  extensive  cellars, 
and  sumptuous  banqueting  halls,  —  all  speak  of  the  roaring  hos- 
pitality of  days  of  yore,  of  which  the  modern  festivity  at  the 
manor-house  is  but  a  shadow.  There  are,  however,  complete 
suites  of  rooms  apparently  deserted  and  time-worn  ;  and  towers 
and  turrets  that  are  tottering  to  decay  ;  so  that  in  high  winds 
there  is  danger  of  their  tumbling  about  the  ears  of  the  house- 
hold. 


238  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

John  has  frequently  been  advised  to  have  the  old  edifice 
thoroughly  overhauled,  and  to  have  some  of  the  useless  parts 
pulled  down,  and  the  others  strengthened  with  their  materials; 
but  the  old  gentleman  always  grows  testy  on  this  subject.  He 
swears  the  house  is  an  excellent  house  —  that  it  is  tight  and 
weather-proof,  and  not  to  be  shaken  by  tempests  —  that  it  has 
stood  for  several  hundred  years,  and  therefore,  is  not  likely  to 
tumble  down  now  —  that  as  to  its  being  inconvenient,  his  family 
is  accustomed  to  the  inconveniences,  and  would  not  be  comfort- 
able without  them  —  that  as  to  its  unwieldy  size  and  irregular 
construction,  these  result  from  its  being  the  growth  of  centuries, 
and  being  improved  by  the  wisdom  of  every  generation  —  that 
an  old  family,  like  his.  requires  a  large  house  to  dwell  in  ;  new, 
upstart  families  may  live  in  modern  cottages  and  snug  boxes, 
but  an  old  English  family  should  inhabit  an  old  English  manor- 
house.  If  you  point  out  any  part  of  the  building  as  superfluous, 
he  insists  that  it  is  material  to  the  strength  or  decoration  of  the 
rest,  and  the  harmony  of  the  whole ;  and  swears  that  the  parts 
are  so  built  into  each  other ;  that,  if  you  pull  down  one  you  run 
the  risk  of  having  the  whole  about  your  ears. 

The  secret  of  the  matter  is,  that  John  has  a  great  disposition 
to  protect  and  patronize.  He  thinks  it  indispensable  to  the 
dignity  of  an  ancient  and  honorable  family,  to  be  bounteous  in 
its  appointments,  and  to  be  eaten  up  by  dependants  ;  arid  so, 
partly  from  pride,  and  partly  from  kind-heartedness,  he  makes 
it  a  rule  always  to  give  shelter  and  maintenance  to  his  super- 
annuated servants. 

The  consequence  is,  that,  like  many  other  venerable  family 
establishments,  his  manor  is  encumbered  by  old  retainers  whom 
he  cannot  turn  off,  and  an  old  style  which  he  cannot  lay  down. 
His  mansion  is  like  a  great  hospital  of  invalids,  and,  with  all  its 
magnitude,  is  not  a  whit  too  large  for  its  inhabitants.  Not  a 
nook  or  corner  but  is  of  use  in  housing  some  useless  personage. 
Groups  of  veteran  beef-eaters,  gouty  pensioners,  and  retired 
heroes  of  the  buttery  and  the  larder,  are  seen  lolling  about  its 
walls,  crawling  over  its  lawns,  dozing  under  its  trees,  or  sunning 
themselves  upon  the  benches  at  its  doors.  Every  office  and 
out-house  is  garrisoned  by  these  supernumeraries  and  their 
families ;  for  they  are  amazingly  prolific,  and  when  they  die  off, 
are  sure  to  leave  John  a  legacy  of  hungry  mouths  to  be  provided 
for.  A  mattock  cannot  be  struck  against  the  most  mouldering 
tumble-down  tower,  but  out  pops,  from  some  cranny,  or  loop- 
hole, the  gray  pate  of  some  superannuated  hanger-on,  who  has 
lived  at  John's  expense  all  his  life,  and  makes  the  most  grievous 


JOHN  BULL.  239 

outcry,  at  their  pulling  down  the  roof  from  over  the  head  of  a 
worn-out  servant  of  the  family.  This  is  an  appeal  that  John's 
honest  heart  never  can  withstand  ;  so  that  a  man  who  has  faith- 
fully eaten  his  beef  and  pudding  all  his  life,  is  sure  to  be 
rewarded  with  a  pipe  and  tankard  in  his  old  days. 

A  great  part  of  his  park,  also,  is  turned  into  paddocks,  where 
his  broken-down  chargers  are  turned  loose  to  graze  undisturbed 
for  the  remainder  of  their  existence  —  a  worthy  example  of 
grateful  recollection,  which  if  some  of  his  neighbors  were  to 
imitate,  would  not  be  to  their  discredit.  Indeed,  it  is  one  of  his 
great  pleasures  to  point  out  these  old  steeds  to  his  visitors,  to 
dwell  on  their  good  qualities,  extol  their  past  services,  and 
boast,  with  some  little  vainglory,  of  the  perilous  adventures 
and  hardy  exploits  through  which  they  have  carried  him. 

He  is  given,  however,  to  indulge  his  veneration  for  family 
usages,  and  family  encumbrances,  to  a  whimsical  extent.  His 
manor  is  infested  by  gangs  of  gypsies ;  yet  he  will  not  suffer 
them  to  be  driven  off,  because  they  have  infested  the  place  time 
out  of  mind,  and  been  regular  poachers  upon  every  generation 
of  the  family.  He  will  scarcely  permit  a  dry  branch  to  be 
lopped  from  the  great  trees  that  surround  the  house,  lest  it 
should  molest  the  rooks,  that  have  bred  there  for  centuries. 
Owls  have  taken  possession  of  the  dove-cote,  but  the}T  are  hered- 
itary owls,  and  must  not  be  disturbed.  Swallows  have  nearly 
choked  up  every  chimney  with  their  nests ;  martins  build  in 
every  frieze  and  cornice ;  crows  nutter  about  the  towers,  and 
perch  on  every  weathercock  ;  and  old  gray-headed  rats  may  be 
seen  in  every  quarter  of  the  house,  running  in  and  out  of  their 
holes  undauntedly  in  broad  daylight.  In  short,  John  has  such 
a  reverence  for  every  thing  that  has  been  long  in  the  family, 
that  he  will  not  hear  even  of  abuses  being  reformed,  because 
they  are  good  old  family  abuses. 

All  these  whims  and  habits  have  concurred  wofully  to  drain 
the  old  gentleman's  purse  ;  and  as  he  prides  himself  on  punctu- 
ality in  money  matters,  and  wishes  to  maintain  his  credit  in 
the  neighborhood,  they  have  caused  him  great  perplexity  in 
meeting  his  engagements.  This,  too,  has  been  increased  by 
the  altercations  and  heartburnings  which  are  continually  taking 
place  in  his  family.  His  children  have  been  brought  up  to  dif- 
ferent callings,  and  are  of  different  ways  of  thinking  ;  and  as 
they  have  always  been  allowed  to  speak  their  minds  freely,  they 
do  not  fail  to  exercise  the  privilege  most  clamorously  in  the 
present  posture  of  his  affairs.  Some  stand  up  for  the  honor 
of  the  race,  and  are  clear  that  the  old  establishment  should  be 


240  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

kept  up  in  all  its  state,  whatever  may  be  the  cost;  others,  who 
are  more  prudent  and  considerate,  entreat  the  old  gentleman 
to  retrench  his  expenses,  and  to  put  his  whole  system  of  house- 
keeping on  a  more  moderate  footing.  He  has,  indeed,  at  times, 
seemed  inclined  to  listen  to  their  opinions,  but  their  wholesome 
advice  has  been  completely  defeated  by  the  obstreperous  con- 
duct of  one  of  his  sons.  This  is  a  noisy  rattle-pated  fellow, 
of  rather  low  habits,  who  neglects  his  business  to  frequent  ale- 
houses —  is  the  orator  of  village  clubs,  and  a  complete  oracle 
among  the  poorest  of  his  father's  tenants.  No  sooner  does  he 
hear  any  of  his  brothers  mention  reform  or  retrenchment,  than 
up  he  jumps,  takes  the  words  out  of  their  mouths,  and  roars 
out  for  an  overturn.  When  his  tongue  is  once  going,  nothing 
can  stop  it.  He  rants  about  the  room  ;  hectors  the  old  man 
about  his  spendthrift  practices ;  ridicules  his  tastes  and  pur- 
suits ;  insists  that  he  shall  turn  the  old  servants  out  of  doors ; 
give  the  broken-down  horses  to  the  hounds  ;  send  the  fat  chap- 
lain packing  and  take  a  field-preacher  in  his  place  —  nay,  that 
the  whole  family  mansion  shall  be  levelled  with  the  ground, 
and  a  plain  one  of  brick  and  mortar  built  in  its  place.  He  rails 
at  every  social  entertainment  and  family  festivity,  and  skulks 
away  growling  to  the  ale-house  whenever  an  equipage  drives  up 
to  the  door.  Though  constantly  complaining  of  the  emptiness 
of  his  purse,  yet  he  scruples  not  to  spend  all  his  pocket-money 
in  these  tavern  convocations,  and  even  runs  up  scores  for  the 
liquor  over  which  he  preaches  about  his  father's  extravagance. 

It  may  readily  be  imagined  how  little  such  thwarting  agrees 
with  the  old  cavalier's  fiery  temperament.  He  has  become  so 
irritable,  from  repeated  crossings,  that  the  mere  mention  of 
retrenchment  or  reform  is  a  signal  for  a  brawl  between  him  and 
the  tavern  oracle.  As  the  latter  is  too  sturdy  and  refractory 
for  paternal  discipline,  having  grown  out  of  all  fear  of  the 
cudgel,  they  have  frequent  scenes  of  wordy  warfare,  which  at 
times  run  so  high,  that  John  is  fain  to  call  in  the  aid  of  his  son 
Tom,  an  officer  who  has  served  abroad,  but  is  at  present  living 
at  home,  on  half-pay.  This  last  is  sure  to  stand  by  the  old 
gentleman,  right  or  wrong  ;  likes  nothing  so  much  as  a  racket- 
ing roystering  life  ;  and  is  ready,  at  a  wink  or  nod,  to  out  sabre, 
and  flourish  it  over  the  orator's  head,  if  he  dares  to  array  him- 
self against  paternal  authority. 

These  family  dissensions,  as  usual,  have  got  abroad,  and  are 
rare  food  for  scandal  in  John's  neighborhood.  People  begin 
to  look  wise,  and  shake  their  heads,  whenever  his  affairs  are 
mentioned.  They  all  "  hope  that  matters  are  not  so  bad  with 


JOHN  BULL.  241 

him  as  represented ;  but  when  a  man's  own  children  begin  to 
rail  at  his  extravagance,  things  must  be  badly  managed.  They 
understand  he  is  mortgaged  over  head  and  ears,  and  is  contin- 
ually dabbling  with  money-lenders.  He  is  certainly  an  open- 
handed  old  gentleman,  but  they  fear  he  has  lived  too  fast ; 
indeed,  •  they  never  knew  any  good  come  of  this  fondness  for 
hunting,  racing,  revelling,  and  prize-fighting.  In  short,  Mr. 
Bull's  estate  is  a  very  fine  one,  and  has  been  in  the  family  a 
long  while  ;  but  for  all  that,  they  have  known  many  finer  es- 
tates come  to  the  hammer." 

What  is  worst  of  all,  is  the  effect  which  these  pecuniary  em- 
barrassments and  domestic  feuds  have  had  on  the  poor  man 
himself.  Instead  of  that  jolly  round  corporation,  and  smug 
rosy  face,  which  he  used  to  present,  he  has  of  late  become  as 
shrivelled  and  shrunk  as  a  frostbitten  apple.  His  scarlet  gold- 
laced  waistcoat,  which  bellied  out  so  bravely  in  those  prosper- 
ous days  when  he  sailed  before  the  wind,  now  hangs  loosely 
about  him  like  a  mainsail  in  a  calm.  His  leather  breeches  are 
all  in  folds  and  wrinkles  ;  and  apparently  have  much  ado  to 
hold  up  the  boots  that  yawn  on  both  sides  of  his  once  sturdy 
legs. 

Instead  of  strutting  about,  as  formerly,  with  his  three-cor- 
nered hat  on  one  side  ;  flourishing  his  cudgel,  and  bringing  it 
down  every  moment  with  a  hearty  thump  upon  the  ground ; 
looking  every  one  sturdily  in  the  face,  and  trolling  out  a  stave 
of  a  catch  or  a  drinking  song ;  he  now  goes  about  whistling 
thoughtfully  to  himself,  with  his  head  drooping  down,  his  cud- 
gel tucked  under  his  arm,  and  his  hands  thrust  to  the  bottom 
of  his  breeches  pockets,  which  are  evidently  empty. 

Such  is  the  plight  of  honest  John  Bull  at  present ;  yet  for  all 
this,  the  old  fellow's  spirit  is  as  tall  and  as  gallant  as  ever.  If 
you  drop  the  least  expression  of  sympathy  or  concern,  he  takes 
fire  in  an  instant ;  swears  that  he  is  the  richest  and  stoutest 
fellow  in  the  country  ;  talks  of  laying  out  large  sums  to  adorn 
his  house  or  buy  another  estate ;  and,  with  a  valiant  swagger 
and  grasping  of  his  cudgel,  longs  exceedingly  to  have  another 
bout  at  quarterstaff. 

Though  there  may  be  something  rather  whimsical  in  all  this, 
yet  I  confess  I  cannot  look  upon  John's  situation  without  strong 
feelings  of  interest.  With  all  his  odd  humors  and  obstinate 
prejudices  he  is  a  sterling-hearted  old  blade.  He  ma}^  not  be 
so  wonderfully  fine  a  fellow  as  he  thinks  himself,  but  he  is  at 
least  twice  as  good  as  his  neighbors  represent  him.  His  virtues 
are  all  his  own  ;  all  plain,  homebred,  and  unaffected.  His  very 


242  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

faults  smack  of  the  raciness  of  his  good  qualities.  His  extrava- 
gance savors  of  his  generosity ;  his  quarrelsomeness,  of  his 
courage ;  his  credulity,  of  his  open  faith ;  his  vanity,  of  his 
pride  ;  and  his  bluntness,  of  his  sincerity.  They  are  all  the 
redundancies  of  a  rich  and  liberal  character.  He  is  like  his  own 
oak ;  rough  without,  but  sound  and  solid  within ;  whose  bark 
abounds  with  excrescences  in  proportion  to  the  growth  and 
grandeur  of  the  timber ;  and  whose  branches  make  a  fearful 
groaning  and  murmuring  in  the  least  storm,  from  their  very 
magnitude  and  luxuriance.  There  is  something,  too,  in  the  ap- 
pearance of  his  old  family  mansion,  that  is  extremely  poetical 
and  picturesque  ;  and,  as  long  as  it  can  be  rendered  comforta- 
bly habitable,  I  should  almost  tremble  to  see  it  meddled  with 
during  the  present  conflict  of  tastes  and  opinions.  Some  of 
his  advisers  are  no  doubt  good  architects,  that  might  be  of 
service  ;  but  many,  I  fear,  are  mere  levellers,  who,  when  they 
had  once  got  to  work  with  their  mattocks  on  this  venerable 
edifice,  would  never  stop  until  they  had  brought  it  to  the  ground, 
and  perhaps  buried  themselves  among  the  ruins.  All  that  I 
wish,  is,  that  John's  present  troubles  may  teach  him  more  pru- 
dence in  future ;  that  he  may  cease  to  distress  his  mind  about 
other  people's  affairs  ;  that  he  may  give  up  the  fruitless  attempt 
to  promote  the  good  of  his  neighbors,  and  the  peace  and  happi- 
ness of  the  world,  by  dint  of  the  cudgel ;  that  he  may  remain 
quietly  at  home  ;  gradually  get  his  house  into  repair ;  cultivate 
his  rich  estate  according  to  his  fancy  ;  husband  his  income  —  if 
he  thinks  proper ;  bring  his  unruly  children  into  order  —  if  he 
can  ;  renew  the  jovial  scenes  of  ancient  prosperity ;  and  long 
enjoy,  on  his  paternal  lands,  a  green,  an  honorable,  and  a  merry 
old  age. 


THE  PRIDE   OF   THE   VILLAGE. 

May  no  wolfe  howle :  no  screech-owle  stir 

A  wing  about  thy  sepulchre! 

No  boysterous  winds  or  stormes  come  hither, 

To  starve  or  wither 

Thy  soft  sweet  earth!  but,  like  a  spring, 
Love  keep  it  ever  flourishing.  —  HERRICK. 

IN  the  course  of  an  excursion  through  one  of  the  remote 
counties  of  England,  I  had  struck  into  one  of  those  cross-roads 
that  lead  through  the  more  secluded  parts  of  the  country,  and 


THE  PRIDE   OF  THE   VILLAGE.  243 

stopped  one  afternoon  at  a  village,  the  situation  of  which  was 
beautifully  rural  and  retired.  There  was  an  air  of  primitive 
simplicity  about  its  inhabitants,  not  to  be  found  in  the. villages 
which  lie  on  the  great  coach-roads.  I  determined  to  pass  the 
night  there,  and  having  taken  an  early  dinner,  strolled  out  to 
enjoy  the  neighboring  scenery. 

My  ramble,  as  is  usually  the  case  with  travellers,  soon  led 
me  to  the  church,  which  stood  at  a  little  distance  from  the  vil- 
lage. Indeed,  it  was  an  object  of  some  curiosity,  its  old  tower 
being  completely  overrun  with  ivy,  so  that  only  here  and  there 
a  jutting  buttress,  an  angle  of  gray  wall,  or  a  fantastically 
carved  ornament,  peered  through  the  verdant  covering.  It  was 
a  lovely  evening.  The  early  part  of  the  day  had  been  dark  and 
showery,  but  in  the  afternoon  it  had  cleared  up  ;  and  though 
sullen  clouds  still  hung  overhead,  yet  there  was  a  broad  tract  of 
golden  sky  in  the  west,  from  which  the  setting  sun  gleamed 
through  the  dripping  leaves,  and  lit  up  all  nature  with  a  melan- 
choly smile.  It  seemed  like  the  parting  hour  of  a  good  Chris- 
tian, smiling  on  the  sins  and  sorrows  of  the  world,  and  giving, 
in  the  serenity  of  his  decline,  an  assurance  that  he  will  rise 
again  in  glory. 

I  had  seated  myself  on  a  half-sunken  tombstone,  and  was 
musing,  as  one  is  apt  to  do  at  this  sober-thoughted  hour,  on 
past  scenes,  and  early  friends — on  those  who  were  distant,  and 
those  who  were  dead  —  and  indulging  in  that  kind  of  melan- 
choly fancying,  which  has  in  it  something  sweeter  even  than 
pleasure.  Every  now  and  then,  the  stroke  of  a  bell  from  the 
neighboring  tower  fell  on  my  ear ;  its  tones  were  in  unison 
with  the  scene,  and  instead  of  jarring,  chimed  in  with  my  feel- 
ings ;  and  it  was  some  time  before  I  recollected,  that  it  must  be 
tolling  the  knell  of  some  new  tenant  of  the  tomb. 

Presently  I  saw  a  funeral  train  moving  across  the  village 
green  ;  it  wound  slowly  along  a  lane  ;  was  lost,  and  reappeared 
through  the  breaks  of  the  hedges,  until  it  passed  the  place 
where  I  was  sitting.  The  pall  was  supported  by  young  girls, 
dressed  in  white ;  and  another,  about  the  age  of  seventeen, 
walked  before,  bearing  a  chaplet  of  white  flowers :  a  token  that 
the  deceased  was  a  young  and  unmarried  female.  The  corpse 
was  followed  by  the  parents.  They  were  a  venerable  couple,  of 
the  better  order  of  peasantry.  The  father  seemed  to  repress 
his  feelings ;  but  his  fixed  eye,  contracted  brow,  and  deeply- 
furrowed  face,  showed  the  struggle  that  was  passing  within. 
His  wife  hung  on  his  arm,  and  wept  aloud  with  the  convulsive 
bursts  of  a  mother's  sorrow. 


244  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

I  followed  the  funeral  into  the  church.  The  bier  was  placed 
in  the  centre  aisle,  and  the  chaplet  of  white  flowers,  with  a  pair 
of  white  gloves,  were  hung  over  the  seat  which  the  deceased 
had  occupied. 

Every  one  knows  the  soul-subduing  pathos  of  the  funeral 
service  ;  for  who  is  so  fortunate  as  never  to  have  followed  some 
one  he  has  loved  to  the  tomb?  but  when  performed  over  the 
remains  of  innocence  and  beauty,  thus  laid  low  in  the  bloom  of 
existence  —  what  can  be  more  affecting?  At  that  simple,  but 
most  solemn  consignment  of  the  body  to  the  grave  —  u  Earth  to 
earth — ashes  to  ashes  —  dust  to  dust !  "  the  tears  of  the  youth- 
ful companions  of  the  deceased  flowed  unrestrained.  The 
father  still  seemed  to  struggle  with  his  feelings,  and  to  comfort 
himself  with  the  assurance,  that  the  dead  are  blessed  which  die 
in  the  Lord :  but  the  mother  only  thought  of  her  child  as  a 
flower  of  the  field,  cut  down  and  withered  in  the  midst  of  its 
sweetness:  she  was  like  Rachel,  "mourning  over  her  children, 
and  would  not  be  comforted." 

On  returning  to  the  inn,  I  learnt  the  whole  story  of  the 
deceased.  It  was  a  simple  one,  and  such  as  has  often  been 
told.  She  had  been  the  beauty  and  pride  of  the  village.  Her 
father  had  once  been  an  opulent  farmer,  but  was  reduced  in 
circumstances.  This  was  an  only  child,  and  brought  up  en- 
tirely at  home,  in  the  simplicity  of  rural  life.  She  had  been 
the  pupil  of  the  village  pastor,  the  favorite  lamb  of  his  little 
flock.  The  good  man  watched  over  her  education  with  pater- 
nal care ;  it  was  limited,  and  suitable  to  the  sphere  in  which 
she  was  to  move  ;  for  he  only  sought  to  make  her  an  ornament 
to  her  station  in  life,  not  to  raise  her  above  it.  The  tender- 
ness and  indulgence  of  her  parents,  and  the  exemption  from 
all  ordinary  occupations,  had  fostered  a  natural  grace  and  deli- 
cacy of  character  that  accorded  with  the  fragile  loveliness  of 
her  form.  She  appeared  like  some  tender  plant  of  the  gar- 
den, blooming  accidentally  amid  the  hardier  natives  of  the 
fields. 

The  superiority  of  her  charms  was  felt  and  acknowledged  by 
her  companions,  but  without  envy  ;  for  it  was  surpassed  by  the 
unassuming  gentleness  and  winning  kindness  of  her  manners. 
It  might  be  truly  said  of  her,  — 


"  This  is  the  prettiest  low-born  lass,  that  ever 
Ran  on  the  greensward  :  nothing  she  does  or  seems, 
But  smacks  of  something  greater  than  herself; 
Too  noble  for  this  place." 


THE  PRIDE   OF  THE    VILLAGE.  245 

The  village  was  one  of  those  sequestered  spots,  which  still 
retain  some  vestiges  of  old  English  customs.  It  had  its  rural 
festivals  and  holyday  pastimes,  and  still  kept  up  some  faint 
observance  of  the  once  popular  ri^es  of  May.  These,  indeed, 
had  been  promoted  by  its  present  pastor ;  who  was  a  lover  of 
old  customs,  and  one  of  those  simple  Christians  that  think  their 
mission  fulfilled  by  promoting  joy  on  earth  and  good-will  among 
mankind.  Under  his  auspices  the  May-pole  stood  from  year 
to  year  in  the  centre  of  the  village  green ;  on  May-day  it  was 
decorated  with  garlands  and  streamers  ;  and  a  queen  or  lady  of 
the  May  was  appointed,  as  in  former  times,  to  preside  at  the 
sports,  and  distribute  the  prizes  and  rewards.  The  picturesque 
situation  of  the  village,  and  the  fancifuluess  of  its  rustic  fetes, 
would  often  attract  the  notice  of  casual  visitors.  Among  these, 
on  one  May-day,  was  a  young  officer,  whose  regiment  had  been 
recently  quartered  in  the  neighborhood.  He  was  charmed  with 
the  native  taste  that  pervaded  this  village  pageant ;  but,  above 
all,  with  the  dawning  loveliness  of  the  queen  of  May.  It  was 
the  village  favorite,  who  was  crowned  with  flowers,  and  blush- 
ing and  smiling  in  all  the  beautiful  confusion  of  girlish  diffi- 
dence and  delight.  The  artlessness  of  rural  habits  enabled 
him  readily  to  make  her  acquaintance ;  he  gradually  won  his 
way  into  her  intimacy  ;  and  paid  his  court  to  her  in  that  unthink- 
ing way  in  which  young  officers  are  too  apt  to  trifle  with  rustic 
simplicity. 

There  was  nothing  in  his  advances  to  startle  or  alarm.  He 
never  even  talked  of  love ;  but  there  are  modes  of  making  it, 
more  eloquent  than  language,  and  which  convey  it  subtilely  and 
irresistibly  to  the  heart.  The  beam  of  the  eye,  the  tone  of 
voice,  the  thousand  tendernesses  which  emanate  from  every 
word,  and  look,  and  action  —  these  form  the  true  eloquence  of 
love,  and  can  always  be  felt  and  understood,  but  never  de- 
scribed. Can  we  wonder  that  they  should  readily  win  a  heart, 
young,  guileless,  and  susceptible  ?  As  to  her,  she  loved  almost 
unconsciously  ;  she  scarcely  inquired  what  was  the  growing  pas- 
sion that  was  absorbing  every  thought  and  feeling,  or  what  were 
to  be  its  consequences.  She,  indeed,  looked  not  to  the  future. 
When  present,  his  looks  and  words  occupied  her  whole  atten- 
tion ;  when  absent,  she  thought  but  of  what  had  passed  at  their 
recent  interview.  She  would  wander  with  him  through  the 
green  lanes  and  rural  scenes  of  the  vicinity.  He  taught  her 
to  see  new  beauties  in  nature ;  he  talked  in  the  language  of 
polite  and  cultivated  life,  and  breathed  into  her  ear  the  witch- 
eries of  romance  and  poetry. 


246  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Perhaps  there  could  not  have  been  a  passion,  between  the 
sexes,  more  pure  than  this  innocent  girl's.  The  gallant  figure 
of  her  youthful  admirer,  and  the  splendor  of  his  military  attire, 
might  at  first  have  charmed  her  eye  ;  but  it  was  not  these  that 
had  captivated  her  heart.  Her  attachment  had  something  in  it 
of  idolatry ;  she  looked  up  to  him  as  to  a  being  of  a  superior 
order.  She  felt  in  his  society  the  enthusiasm  of  a  mind  natu- 
rally delicate  and  poetical,  and  now  first  awakened  to  a  keen 
perception  of  the  beautiful  and  grand.  Of  the  sordid  distinc- 
tions of  rank  and  fortune,  she  thought  nothing ;  it  was  the 
difference  of  intellect,  of  demeanor,  of  manners,  from  those 
of  the  rustic  society  to  which  she  had  been  accustomed,  that 
elevated  him  in  her  opinion.  She  would  listen  to  him  with 
charmed  ear  and  downcast  look  of  mute  delight,  and  her  cheek 
would  mantle  with  enthusiasm :  or  if  ever  she  ventured  a  shy 
glance  of  timid  admiration,  it  was  as  quickly  withdrawn,  and 
she  would,  sigh  and  blush  at  the  idea  of  her  comparative  un- 
worthiness. 

Her  lover  was  equally  impassioned ;  but  his  passion  was 
mingled  with  feelings  of  a  coarser  nature.  He  had  begun  the 
connection  in  levity  ;  for  he  had  often  heard  his  brother  officers 
boast  of  their  village  conquests,  and  thought  some  triumph  of 
the  kind  necessary  to  his  reputation  as  a  man  of  spirit.  But 
he  was  too  full  of  youthful  fervor.  His  heart  had  not  yet  been 
rendered  sufficiently  cold  and  selfish  by  a  wandering  and  a  dis- 
sipated life :  it  caught  fire  from  the  very  flame  it  sought  to 
kindle  ;  and  before  he  was  aware  of  the  nature  of  his  situation, 
he  became  really  in  love. 

What  was  he  to  do  ?  There  were  the  old  obstacles  which  so 
incessantly  occur  in  these  heedless  attachments.  His  rank  in 
life  —  the  prejudices  of  titled  connections  —  his  dependence 
upon  a  proud  and  unyielding  father  —  all  forbade  him  to  think 
of  matrimony  :  —  but  when  he  looked  down  upon  this  innocent 
being,  so  tender  and  confiding,  there  was  a  purity  in  her  man- 
ners, a  blamelessness  in  her  life,  and  a  beseeching  modesty  in 
her  looks,  that  awed  down  every  licentious  feeling.  In  vain 
did  he  try  to  fortify  himself,  by  a  thousand  heartless  examples 
of  men  of  fashion,  and  to  chill  the  glow  of  generous  sentiment, 
with  that  cold  derisive  levity  with  which  he  had  heard  them  talk 
of  female  virtue ;  whenever  he  came  into  her  presence,  she  was 
still  surrounded  by  that  mysterious,  but  impassive  charm  of 
virgin  purity,  in  whose  hallowed  sphere  no  guilty  thought  can 
live. 

The  ^uddeu  arrival  of  orders  for  the  regiment  to  repair  to 


THE  PRIDE  OF  THE   VILLAGE.  247 

the  continent,  completed  the  confusion  of  his  mind.  He  re- 
mained for  a  short  time  in  a  state  of  the  most  painful  irresolu- 
tion ;  he  hesitated  to  communicate  the  tidings,  until  the  day 
for  marching  was  at  hand;  when  he  gave  her  the  intelligence 
in  the  course  of  an  evening  ramble. 

The  idea  of  parting  had  never  before  occurred  to  her.  It 
broke  in  at  once  upon  her  dream  of  felicity ;  she  looked  upon 
it  as  a  sudden  and  insurmountable  evil,  and  wept  with  the  guile- 
less simplicity  of  a  child.  He  drew  her  to  his  bosom  and  kissed 
the  tears  from  her  soft  cheek,  nor  did  he  meet  with  a  repulse, 
for  there  are  moments  of  mingled  sorrow  and  tenderness,  which 
hallow  the  caresses  of  affection.  He  was  naturally  impetuous, 
and  the  sight  of  beauty  apparently  yielding  in  his  arms,  the 
confidence  of  his  power  over  her,  and  the  dread  of  losing  her 
forever,  all  conspired  to  overwhelm  his  better  feelings  —  he 
ventured  to  propose  that  she  should  leave  her  home,  and  be  the 
companion  of  his  fortunes. 

He  was  quite  a  novice  in  seduction,  and  blushed  and  faltered 
at  his  own  baseness  ;  but,  so  innocent  of  mind  was  his  intended 
victim,  that  she  was  at  first  at  a  loss  to  comprehend  his  mean- 
ing; —  and  why  she  should  leave  her  native  village,  and  the 
humble  roof  of  her  parents.  When  at  last  the  nature  of  his 
proposals  flashed  upon  her  pure  mind,  the  effect  was  wither- 
ing. She  did  not  weep  —  she  did  not  break  forth  into  re- 
proaches —  she  said  not  a  word  —  but  she  shrunk  back  aghast 
as  from  a  viper,  gave  him  a  look  of  anguish  that  pierced  to  his 
very  soul,  and  clasping  her  hands  in  agony,  fled,  as  if  for  refuge, 
to  her  father's  cottage. 

The  officer  retired,  confounded,  humiliated,  and  repentant. 
It  is  uncertain  what  might  have  been  the  result  of  the  conflict 
of  his  feelings,  had  not  his  thoughts  been  diverted  by  the 
bustle  of  departure.  New  scenes,  new  pleasures,  and  new 
companions,  soon  dissipated  his  self-reproach,  and  stifled  his 
tenderness.  Yet,  amidst  the  stir  of  camps,  the  revelries  of 
garrisons,  the  array  of  armies,  and  even  the  din  of  battles,  his 
thoughts  would  sometimes  steal  back  to  the  scenes  of  rural 
quiet  and  village  simplicity  —  the  white  cottage  —  the  footpath 
along  the  silver  brook  and  up  the  hawthorn  hedge,  and  the 
little  village  maid  loitering  along  it,  leaning  on  his  arm  and 
listening  to  him  with  eyes  beaming  with  unconscious  affection. 

The  shock  which  the  poor  girl  had  received,  in  the  destruc- 
tion of  all  her  ideal  world,  had  indeed  been  cruel.  Paintings 
and  hysterics  had  at  first  shaken  her  tender  frame,  and  were 
succeeded  by  a  settled  and  pining  melancholy.  She  had  beheld 


248  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

from  her  window  the  march  of  the  departing  troops.  She  had 
seen  her  faithless  lover  borne  off,  as  if  in  triumph,  amidst  the 
sound  of  drum  and  trumpet,  and  the  pomp  of  arms.  She 
strained  a  last  aching  gaze  after  him,  as  the  morning  sun  glit- 
tered about  his  figure,  and  his  plume  waved  in  the  breeze ;  he 
passed  away  like  a  bright  vision  from  her  sight,  and  left  her  all 
in  darkness. 

It  would  be  trite  to  dwell  on  the  particulars  of  her  after- 
story.  It  was  like  other  tales  of  love,  melancholy.  She  avoided 
society,  and  wandered  out  alone  in  the  walks  she  had  most 
frequented  with  her  lover.  She  sought,  like  the  stricken  deer, 
to  weep  in  silence  and  loneliness,  and  brood  over  the  barbed 
sorrow  that  rankled  in  her  soul.  Sometimes  she  would  be  seen 
late  of  an  evening  sitting  in  the  porch  of  a  village  church ; 
and  the  milk-maids,  returning  from  the  fields,  would  now  and 
then  overbear  her,  singing  some  plaintive  ditty  in  the  haw- 
thorn walk.  She  became  fervent  in  her  devotions  at  church ; 
and  as  the  old  people  saw  her  approach,  so  wasted  away,  yet 
with  a  hectic  bloom,  and  that  hallowed  air  which  melancholy 
diffuses  round  the  form,  they  would  make  way  for  her,  as  for 
something  spiritual,  and,  looking  after  her,  would  shake  their 
heads  in  gloomy  foreboding. 

She  felt  a  conviction  that  she  was  hastening  to  the  tomb,  but 
looked  forward  to  it  as  a  place  of  rest.  The  silver  cord  that 
had  bound  her  to  existence  was  loosed,  and  there  seemed  to  be 
no  more  pleasure  under  the  sun.  If  ever  her  gentle  bosom  had 
entertained  resentment  against  her  lover,  it  was  extinguished. 
She  was  incapable  of  angry  passions,  and  in  a  moment  of  sad- 
dened tenderness  she  penned  him  a  farewell  letter.  It  was 
couched  in  the  simplest  language,  but  touching  from  its  very 
simplicity.  She  told  him  that  she  was  dying,  and  did  not 
conceal  from  him  that  his  conduct  was  the  cause.  She  even 
depicted  the  sufferings  which  she  had  experienced ;  but  con- 
cluded with  saying,  that  she  could  not  die  in  peace,  until  she 
had  sent  him  her  forgiveness  and  her  blessing. 

By  degrees  her  strength  declined,  and  she  could  no  longer 
leave  the  cottage.  She  could  only  totter  to  the  window,  where, 
propped  up  in  her  chair,  it  was  her  enjoyment  to  sit  all  day 
and  look  out  upon  the  landscape.  Still  she  uttered  no  com- 
plaint, nor  imparted  to  any  one  the  malady  that  was  preying 
on  her  heart.  She  never  even  mentioned  her  lover's  name ; 
but  would  lay  her  head  on  her  mother's  bosom  and  weep  in 
silence.  Her  poor  parents  hung,  in  mute  anxiety,  over  this 
fading  blossom  of  their  hopes,  still  flattering  themselves  that  it 


THE  PRIUE  OF  THE   VILLAGE.  249 

might  again  revive  to  freshness,  and  that  the  bright  unearthly 
bloom  which  sometimes  flushed  her  cheek,  might  be  the  promise 
of  returning  health. 

In  this  way  she  was  seated  between  them  one  Sunday  after- 
noon ;  her  hands  were  clasped  in  theirs,  the  lattice  was  thrown 
open,  and  the  soft  air  that  stole  in,  brought  with  it  the  fra- 
grance of  the  clustering  honeysuckle,  which  her  own  hands 
had  trained  round  the  window. 

Her  father  had  just  been  reading  a  chapter  in  the  Bible ;  it 
spoke  of  the  vanity  of  worldly  things,  and  of  the  joys  of  heaven ; 
it  seemed  to  have  diffused  comfort  and  serenity  through  her 
bosom.  Her  eye  was  fixed  on  the  distant  village  church  —  the 
bell  had  tolled  for  the  evening  service  —  the  last  villager  was 
lagging  into  the  porch  —  and  every  thing  had  sunk  into  that 
hallowed  stillness  peculiar  to  the  day  of  rest.  Her  parents 
were  gazing  on  her  with  yearning  hearts.  Sickness  and  sor- 
row, which  pass  so  roughly  over  some  faces,  had  given  to  hers 
the  expression  of  a  seraph's.  A  tear  trembled  in  her  soft 
blue  eye.  —  Was  she  thinking  of  her  faithless  lover?  —  or  were 
her  thoughts  wandering  to  that  distant  churchyard,  into  whose 
bosom  she  might  soon  be  gathered  ? 

Suddenly  the  clang  of  hoofs  was  heard  —  a  horseman  galloped 
to  the  cottage  —  he  dismounted  before  the  window  —  the  poor 
girl  gave  a  faint  exclamation,  and  sunk  back  in  her  chair :  —  it 
was  her  repentant  lover !  He  rushed  into  the  house,  and  flew 
to  clasp  her  to  his  bosom  ;  but  her  wasted  form  —  her  death-like 
countenance  —  so  wan,  yet  so  lovely  in  its  desolation  —  smote 
him  to  the  soul,  and  he  threw  himself  in  agony  at  her  feet. 
She  was  too  faint  to  rise  —  she  attempted  to  extend  her  trem- 
bling hand  —  her  lips  moved  as  if  she  spoke,  but  no  word  was 
articulated  —  she  looked  down  upon  him  with  a  smile  of  unut- 
terable tenderness,  and  closed  her  eyes  forever. 

Such  are  the  particulars  which  I  gathered  of  this  village 
story.  They  are  but  scanty,  and  I  am  conscious  have  little 
novelty  to  recommend  them.  In  the  present  rage  also  for 
strange  incident  and  high-seasoned  narrative,  they  may  appear 
trite  and  insignificant,  but  they  interested  me  strongly  at  the 
time ;  and,  taken  in  connection  with  the  affecting  ceremony 
which  I  had  just  witnessed,  left  a  deeper  impression  on  my 
mind  than  many  circumstances  of  a  more  striking  nature.  I 
have  passed  through  the  place  since,  and  visited  the  church 
again  from  a  better  motive  than  mere  curiosity.  It  was  a 
wintry  evening ;  the  trees  were  stripped  of  their  foliage ;  the 
churchyard  looked  naked  and  mournful,  and  the  wind  rustled 


I 

250  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

coldly  through  the  dry  grass.  Evergreens,  however,  had  been 
planted  about  the  grave  of  the  village  favorite,  and  osiers  were 
bent  over  it  to  keep  the  turf  uninjured.  The  church-door  was 
open,  and  I  stepped  in.  —  There  hung  the  chaplet  of  flowers 
and  the  gloves,  as  on  the  day  of  the  funeral :  the  flowers  were 
withered,  it  is  true,  but  care  seemed  to  have  been  taken  that  no 
dust  should  soil  their  whiteness.  I  have  seen  many  monuments, 
where  art  has  exhausted  its  powers  to  awaken  the  sympathy 
of  the  spectator ;  but  I  have  met  with  none  that  spoke  more 
touchingly  to  my  heart,  than  this  simple,  but  delicate  memento 
of  departed  innocence. 


THE  ANGLER. 

This  day  dame  Nature  seemed  in  love, 

The  lusty  sap  began  to  move, 

Fresh  juice  did  stir  th'  embracing  vines, 

And  birds  had  drawn  their  valentines. 

The  jealous  trout  that  low  did  lie, 

Rose  at  a  well  dissembled  fly. 

There  stood  my  friend,  with  patient  skill, 

Attending  of  his  trembling  quill.  —  SIB  II.  WOTTON. 

IT  is  said  that  many  an  unlucky  urchin  is  induced  to  run 
away  from  his  family,  and  betake  himself  to  a  seafaring  life, 
from  reading  the  history  of  Robinson  Crusoe ;  and  I  suspect 
that,  in  like  manner,  many  of  those  worthy  gentlemen,  who 
are  given  to  haunt  the  sides  of  pastoral  streams  with  angle- 
rods  in  hand,  may  trace  the  origin  of  their  passion  to  the  seduc- 
tive pages  of  honest  Izaak  Walton.  I  recollect  studying  his 
"Complete  Angler"  several  years  since,  in  company  with  a 
knot  of  friends  in  America,  and,  moreover,  that  we  were  all 
completely  bitten  with  the  angling  mania.  It  was  early  in  the 
year ;  but  as  soon  as  the  weather  was  auspicious,  and  that 
the  spring  began  to  melt  into  the  verge  of  summer,  we  took  rod 
in  hand,  and  sallied  into  the  country,  as  stark  mad  as  was  ever 
Don  Quixote  from  reading  books  of  chivalry. 

One  of  our  party  had  equalled  the  Don  in  the  fulness  of  his 
equipments ;  being  attired  cap-a-pie  for  the  enterprise.  He 
wore  a  broad-skirted  fustian  coat,  perplexed  with  half  a  hun- 
dred pockets ;  a  pair  of  stout  shoes,  and  leathern  gaiters ;  a 
basket  slung  on  one  side  for  fish  ;  a  patent  rod  ;  a  landing  net, 
and  a  score  of  other  inconveniences  only  to  be  found  in  the 


THE  ANGLER.  251 

true  angler's  armory.  Thus  harnessed  for  the  field,  he  was  as 
great  a  matter  of  stare  and  wonderment  among  the  country 
folk,  who  had  never  seen  a  regular  angler,  as  was  the  steel-clad 
hero  of  La  Mancha  among  the  goat-herds  of  the  Sierra  Morena. 

Our  first  essay  was  along  a  mountain  brook,  among  the 
highlands  of  the  Hudson  —  a  most  unfortunate  place  for  the 
execution  of  those  piscatory  tactics  which  had  been  invented 
along  the  velvet  margins  of  quiet  English  rivulets.  It  was  one 
of  those  wild  streams  that  lavish,  among  our  romantic  soli- 
tudes, unheeded  beauties,  enough  to  fill  the  sketch-book  of  a 
hunter  of  the  picturesque.  Sometimes  it  would  leap  down 
rocky  shelves,  making  small  cascades,  over  which  the  trees 
threw  their  broad  balancing  sprays ;  and  long  nameless  weeds 
hung  in  fringes  from  the  impending  banks,  dripping  with  dia- 
mond drops.  Sometimes  it  would  brawl  and  fret  along  a  ravine 
in  the  matted  shade  of  a  forest,  filling  it  with  murmurs ;  and 
after  this  termagant  career,  would  steal  forth  into  open  day 
with  the  most  placid  demure  face  imaginable ;  as  I  have  seen 
some  pestilent  shrew  of  a  housewife,  after  filling  her  home  with 
uproar  and  ill-humor,  come  dimpling  out  of  doors,  swimming, 
and  courtesying,  and  smiling  upon  all  the  world. 

How  smoothly  would  this  vagrant  brook  glide,  at  such  times, 
through  some  bosom  of  green  meadow  land,  among  the  moun- 
tains ;  where  the  quiet  was  only  interrupted  by  the  occasional 
tinkling  of  a  bell  from  the  lazy  cattle  among  the  clover,  or  the 
sound  of  a  wood-cutter's  axe  from  the  neighboring  forest ! 

For  my  part,  I  was  always  a  bungler  at  all  kinds  of  sport 
that  required  either  patience  or  adroitness,  and  had  not  angled 
above  half  an  hour,  before  I  had  completely  "  satisfied  the  sen- 
timent," and  convinced  myself  of  the  truth  of  Izaak  Walton's 
opinion,  that  angling  is  something  like  poetry  —  a  man  must  be 
born  to  it.  I  hooked  myself  instead  of  the  fish ;  tangled  my 
line  in  every  tree  ;  lost  my  bait ;  broke  my  rod  ;  until  I  gave  up 
the  attempt  in  despair,  and  passed  the  day  under  the  trees, 
reading  old  Izaak :  satisfied  that  it  was  his  fascinating  vein  of 
honest  simplicity  and  rural  feeling  that  had  bewitched  me,  and 
not  the  passion  for  angling.  My  companions,  however,  were 
more  persevering  in  their  delusion.  I  have  them  at  this  mo- 
ment before  my  eyes,  stealing  along  the  border  of  the  brook, 
where  it  lay  open  to  the  day,  or  was  merely  fringed  by  shrubs 
and  bushes.  I  see  the  bittern  rising  with  hollow  scream,  as 
they  break  in  upon  his  rarely-invaded  haunt ;  the  kingfisher 
watching  them  suspiciously  from  his  dry  tree  that  overhangs 
the  deep  black  mill-pond,  in  the  gorge  of  the  hills ;  the  tortoise 


252  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

letting  himself  slip  sideways  from  off  the  stone  or  log  on  which 
he  is  sunning  himself ;  and  the  panic-struck  frog  plumping 
in  headlong  as  they  approach,  and  spreading  an  alarm  through- 
out the  watery  world  around. 

I  recollect,  also,  that,  after  toiling  and  watching  and  creep- 
ing about  for  the  greater  part  of  a  day,  with  scarcely  any  suc- 
cess, in  spite  of  all  our  admirable  apparatus,  a  lubberly  country 
urchin  came  down  from  the  hills,  with  a  rod  made  from  a 
branch  of  a  tree ;  a  few  yards  of  twine  ;  and,  as  heaven  shall 
help  me  !  I  believe  a  crooked  pin  for  a  hook,  baited  with  a  vile 
earth-worm  —  and  in  half  an  hour  caught  more  fish  than  we  had 
nibbles  throughout  the  day. 

But  above  all,  I  recollect  the  "  good,  honest,  wholesome, 
hungiy  "  repast,  which  we  made  under  a  beech-tree  just  by  a 
spring  of  pure  sweet  water,  that  stole  out  of  the  side  of  a  hill ; 
and  how,  when  it  was  over,  one  of  the  party  read  old  Izaak 
Walton's  scene  with  the  milkmaid,  while  I  lay  on  the  grass 
and  built 'castles  in  a  bright  pile  of  clouds,  until  I  fell  asleep. 
All  this  may  appear  like  mere  egotism :  yet  I  cannot  refrain 
from  uttering  these  recollections  which  are  passing  like  a  strain 
of  music  over  my  mind,  and  have  been  called  up  by  an  agree- 
able scene  which  I  witnessed  not  long  since. 

In  a  morning's  stroll  along  the  banks  of  the  Alun,  a  beauti- 
ful little  stream  which  flows  down  from  the  Welsh  hills  and 
throws  itself  into  the  Dee,  my  attention  was  attracted  to  a 
group  seated  on  the  margin.  On  approaching,  I  found  it  to 
consist  of  a  veteran  angler  and  two  rustic  disciples.  The 
former  was  an  old  fellow  with  a  wooden  leg,  with  clothes  very 
much,  but  very  carefully  patched,  betokening  poverty,  honestly 
come  by,  and  decently  maintained.  His  face  bore  the  marks 
of  former  storms,  but  present  fair  weather ;  its  furrows  had 
been  worn  into  an  habitual  smile ;  his  iron-gray  locks  hung 
about  his  ears,  and  he  had  altogether  the  good-humored  air  of 
a  constitutional  philosopher,  who  was  disposed  to  take  the 
world  as  it  went.  One  of  his  companions  was  a  ragged  wight, 
with  the  skulking  look  of  an  arrant  poacher,  and  I'll  warrant 
could  find  his  way  to  any  gentleman's  fish-pond  in  the  neigh- 
borhood  in  the  darkest  night.  The  other  was  a  tall,  awkward, 
country  lad,  with  a  lounging  gait,  and  apparently  somewhat  of 
a  rustic  beau.  The  old  man  was  busy  examining  the  maw  of 
a  trout  which  he  had  just  killed,  to  discover  by  its  contents 
what  insects  were  seasonable  for  bait ;  and  was  lecturing  on  the 
subject  to  his  companions,  who  appeared  to  listen  with  infinite 
deference.  I  have  a  kind  feeling  toward  all  '*  brothers  of 


THE  ANGLER.  253 

the  angle,"  ever  since  I  read  Izaak  Walton.  They  are  men, 
he  affirms,  of  a  "  mild,  sweet,  and  peaceable  spirit ;  "  and  my 
esteem  for  them  has  been  increased  since  I  met  with  an  old 
"  Tretyse  of  fishing  with  the  Angle,"  in  which  are  set  forth 
many  of  the  maxims  of  their  inoffensive  fraternity.  "Take 
goode  hecle,"  sayeth  this  honest  little  tretyse,  "that  in  going 
about  your  disportes  ye  open  no  man's  gates,  but  that  ye  shet 
them  again.  Also  ye  shall  not  use  this  forsayd  crafti  disport  for 
no  covetousness  to  the  increasing  and  sparing  of  your  money 
only,  but  principally  for  your  solace  and  to  cause  the  helth  of 
your  body  and  specyally  of  your  soule."  l 

I  thought  that  I  could  perceive  in  the  veteran  angler  before 
me  an  exemplification  of  what  I  had  read ;  and  there  was  a 
cheerful  contentedness  in  his  looks,  that  quite  drew  me  towards 
him.  I  could  not  but  remark  the  gallant  manner  in  which  he 
stumped  from  one  part  of  the  brook  to  another ;  waving  his 
rod  in  the  air,  to  keep  the  line  from  dragging  on  the  ground,  or 
catching  among  the  bushes ;  and  the  adroitness  with  which  he 
would  throw  his  fly  to  any  particular  place  ;  sometimes  skim- 
ming it  lightly  along  a  little  rapid ;  sometimes  casting  it  into 
one  of  those  dark  holes  made  by  a  twisted  root  or  overhanging 
bank,  in  which  the  large  trout  are  apt  to  lurk.  In  the  mean- 
while, he  was  giving  instructions  to  his  two  disciples ;  showing 
them  the  manner  in  which  they  should  handle  their  rods,  fix 
their  flies,  and  play  them  along  the  surface  of  the  stream.  The 
scene  brought  to  my  mind  the  instructions  of  the  sage  Piscator 
to  his  scholar.  The  country  around  was  of  that  pastoral  kind 
which  Walton  is  fond  of  describing.  It  was  a  part  of  the  great 
plain  of  Cheshire,  close  by  the  beautiful  vale  of  Gessford,  and 
just  where  the  inferior  Welsh  hills  begin  to  swell  up  from 
among  fresh-smelling  meadows.  The  day,  too,  like  that  re- 
corded in  his  work,  was  mild  and  sunshiny ;  with  now  and  then 
a  soft  dropping  shower,  that  sowed  the  whole  earth  with  dia- 
monds. 

I  soon  fell  into  conversation  with  the  old  angler,  and  was  so 
much  entertained,  that,  under  pretext  of  receiving  instructions 
in  his  art,  I  kept  company  with  him  almost  the  whole  day ; 
wandering  along  the  banks  of  the  stream,  and  listening  to  his 


1  From  this  same  treatise,  it  would  appear  that  angling  is  a  more  industrious  and 
devout  employment  than  it  is  generally  considered.  "  For  when  ye  purpose  to  go  on 
your  disportes  in  fishynge,  ye  will  not  desyre  greatlye  many  persons  with  you,  which 
might  let  you  of  your  game.  And  that  ye  may  serve  God  devoutly  in  sayinge 
effectually  your  customable  prayers.  And  thus  doying,  ye  shall  eschew  and  also 
avoyde  many  yic*es,  as  ydleness,  which  is  principall  cause  to  induce  man  to  many  other 
vices,  as  it  ia  right  well  known." 


254  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

talk.  He  was  very  communicative,  having  all  the  easy  garru- 
lity of  cheerful  old  age  ;  and  I  fancy  was  a  little  flattered  .by 
having  an  opportunity  of  displaying  his  piscatory  lore  ;  for  who 
does  not  like  now  and  then  to  play  the  sage  ? 

He  had  been  much  of  a  rambler  in  his  day ;  and  had  passed 
some  years  of  his  youth  in  America,  particularly  in  Savannah, 
where  he  had  entered  into  trade,  and  had  been  ruined  by  the 
indiscretion  of  a  partner.  He  had  afterward  experienced  many 
ups  and  downs  in  life,  until  he  got  into  the  navy,  where  his  leg- 
was  carried  .away  by  a  cannon-ball,  at  the  battle  of  Camper- 
down.  This  was  the  only  stroke  of  real  good  fortune  he  had 
ever  experienced,  for  it  got  him  a  pension,  which,  together  with 
some  small  paternal  property,  brought  him  in  a  revenue  of 
nearly  fort}*  pounds.  On  this  he  retired  to  his  native  village, 
where  he  lived  quietly  and  independently,  and  devoted  the 
remainder  of  his  life  to  the  "  noble  art  of  angling." 

I  found  that  he  had  read  Izaak  Walton  attentively,  and  he 
seemed  to  have  imbibed  all  his  simple  frankness  and  prevalent 
good-humor.  Though  he  had  been  sorely  buffeted  about  the 
world,  he  was  satisfied  that  the  world,  in  itself,  was  good  and 
beautiful.  Though  he  had  been  as  roughly  used  in  different 
countries  as  a  poor  sheep  that  is  fleeced  by  every  hedge  and 
thicket,  yet  he  spoke  of  every  nation  with  candor  and  kindness, 
appearing  to  look  only  on  the  good  side  of  things :  and  above 
all,  he  was  almost  the  only  man  I  had  ever  met  with,  who  had 
been  an  unfortunate  adventurer  in  America,  and  had  honesty 
and  magnanimity  enough  to  take  the  fault  to  his  own  door,  and 
not  to  curse  the  country. 

The  lad  that  was  receiving  his  instructions  I  learnt  was  the 
son  and  heir  apparent  of  a  fat  old  widow,  who  kept  the  village 
inn,  and  of  course  a  youth  of  some  expectation,  and  much 
courted  by  the  idle,  gentleman-like  personages  of  the  place.  In 
taking  him  under  his  care,  therefore,  the  old  man  had  probably 
an  eye  to  a  privileged  corner  in  the  tap-room,  and  an  occasional 
cup  of  cheerful  ale  free  of  expense. 

There  is  certainly  something  in  angling,  if  we  could  forget, 
which  anglers  are  apt  to  do,  the  cruelties  and  tortures  inflicted 
on  worms  and  insects,  that  tends  to  produce  a  gentleness  of 
spirit,  and  a  pure  serenity  of  mind.  As  the  English  are  me- 
thodical even  in  their  recreations,  and  are  the  most  scientific  of 
sportsmen,  it  has  been  reduced  among  them  to  perfect  rule  and 
system.  Indeed,  it  is  an  amusement  peculiarly  adapted  to  the 
mild  and  highly  cultivated  scenery  of  England,  where  every 
roughness  has  been  softened  away  from  the  landscape.  It  is  de- 


THE    ANGLER.  255 

lightf  ill  to  saunter  along  those  limpid  streams  which  wander,  like 
veins  of  silver,  through  the  bosom  of  this  beautiful  country  ;  lead- 
ing one  through  a  diversity  of  small  home  scenery ;  sometimes 
winding  through  ornamented  grounds  ;  sometimes  brimming  along 
through  rich  pasturage,  where  the  fresh  green  is  mingled  with 
sweet-smelling  flowers,  sometimes  venturing  in  sight  of  villages 
and  hamlets ;  and  then  running  capriciously  away  into  shady 
retirements.  The  sweetness  and  serenity  of  nature,  and  the; 
quiet  watchfulness  of  the  sport,  gradually  bring  on  pleasant  fitw 
of  musing  ;  which  are  now  and  then  agreeably  interrupted  by 
the  song  of  a  bird  ;  the  distant  whistle  of  the  peasant ;  or  per- 
haps the  vagary  of  some  fish,  leaping  out  of  the  still  water, 
and  skimming  transiently  about  its  glassj-  surface.  "When  I 
would  beget  content,"  says  Izaak  Walton,  "  and  increase  con- 
fidence in  the  power  and  wisdom  and  providence  of  Almighty 
Go,d,  I  will  walk  the  meadows  b}7  some  gliding  stream,  and 
there  contemplate  the  lilies  that  take  no  care,  and  those  very 
many  other  little  living  creatures  that  are  not  only  created,  but 
fed,  (man  knows  not  how)  by  the  goodness  of  the  God  of 
nature,  and  therefore  trust  in  him." 

I  cannot  forbear  to  give  another  quotation  from  one  of  those 
ancient  champions  of  angling,  which  breathes  the  same  innocent 
and  happy  spirit : 

Let  me  live  harmlessly,  and  near  the  brink 

Of  Trent  or  Avon  have  a  dwelling-place  : 
Where  I  may  see  my  quill,  or  cork  down  sink, 

With  eager  bite  of  Pike,  or  Bleak,  or  Dace; 
And  on  the  world  and  my  Creator  think  : 

While  some  men  strive  ill-gotten  goods  t'  embrace; 
And  others  spend  their  time  in  base  excess 

Of  wine,  or  worse,  in  war  or  wantonness. 

Let  them  that  will,  these  pastimes  still  pursue 

And  on  such  pleasing  fancies  feed  their  fill, 
So  I  the  fields  and  meadows  green  may  view, 

And  daily  by  fresh  rivers  walk  at  will 
Among  the  daisies  and  the  violets  blue, 

Red  hyacinth  and  yellow  daffodil.1 

On  parting  with  the  old  angler,  I  inquired  after  his  place  of 
abode,  and  happening  to  be  in  the  neighborhood  of  the  village 
a  few  evenings  afterwards,  I  had  the  curiosity  to  seek  him  out. 
I  found  him  living  in  a  small  cottage,  containing  only  one 

1  J.  Davors. 


256  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

room,  but  a  perfect  curiosity  in  its  method  and  arrangement. 
It  was  on  the  skirts  of  the  village,  on  a  green  "bank,  a  little 
back  from  the  road,  with  a  small  garden  in  front,  stocked  with 
kitchen-herbs,  and  adorned  with  a  few  flowers.  The  whole 
front  of  the  cottage  was  overrun  with  a  honeysuckle.  On  the 
top  was  a  ship  for  a  weathercock.  The  interior  was  fitted  up 
in  a  truly  nautical  style,  his  ideas  of  comfort  and  convenience 
having  been  acquired  on  the  berth-deck  of  a  man-of-war.  A 
hammock  was  slung  from  the  ceiling,  which  in  the  day-time  was 
lashed  up  so  as  to  take  but  little  room.  From  the  centre  of  the 
chamber  hung  a  model  of  a  ship,  of  his  own  workmanship.  Two 
or  three  chairs,  a  table,  and  a  large  sea-chest,  formed  the  prin- 
cipal movables.  About  the  wall  were  stuck  up  naval  ballads, 
such  as  Admiral  Hosier's  Ghost,  All  in  the  Downs,  and  Tom 
Bowling,  intermingled  with  pictures  of  sea-fights,  among  which 
the  battle  of  Camperdown  held  a  distinguished  place.  The 
mantelpiece  was  decorated  with  seashells ;  over  which  hung  a 
quadrant,  flanked  by  two  wood-cuts  of  most  bitter-looking 
naval  commanders.  His  implements  for  angling  were  carefully 
disposed  on  nails  and  hooks  about  the  room.  On  a  shelf  was 
arranged  his  library,  containing  a  work  on  angling,  much  worn  ; 
a  Bible  covered  with  canvas  ;  an  odd  volume  or  two  of  voyages  ; 
a  nautical  almanac  ;  and  a  book  of  songs. 

His  family  consisted  of  a  large  black  cat  with  one  eye,  and  a 
parrot  which  he  had  caught  and  tamed,  and  educated  himself, 
in  the  course  of  one  of  his  voyages  ;  and  which  uttered  a  variety 
of  sea  phrases,  with  the  hoarse  rattling  tone  of  a  veteran  boat- 
swain. The  establishment  reminded  me  of  that  of  the  renowned 
Robinson  Crusoe  ;  it  was  kept  in  neat  order,  every  thing  being 
' '  stowed  away  ' '  with  the  regularity  of  a  ship  of  war ;  and  he 
informed  me  that  he  "scoured  the  deck  every  morning,  and 
swept  it  between  meals." 

I  found  him  seated  on  a  bench  before  the  door,  smoking  his 
pipe  in  the  soft  evening  sunshine.  His  cat  was  purring  soberly 
on  the  threshold,  and  his  parrot  describing  some  strange  evolu- 
tions in  an  iron  ring,  that  swung  in  the  centre  of  his  cage.  He 
had  been  angling  all  day,  and  gave  me  a  histoiy  of  his  sport 
with  as  much  minuteness  as  a  general  would  talk  over  a  cam- 
paign ;  being  particularly  animated  in  relating  the  manner  in 
which  he  had  taken  a  large  trout,  which  had  completely  tasked 
all  his  skill  and  wariness,  and  which  he  had  sent  as  a  trophy  to 
mine  hostess  of  the  inn. 

How  comforting  it  is  to  see  a  cheerful  and  contented  old  age  ; 
and  to  behold  a  poor  fellow,  like  this,  after  being  tempest-tost 


THE  ANGLER.  257 

through  life,  safely  moored  in  a  snug  and  quiet  harbor  in  the 
evening  of  his  days  !  His  happiness,  however,  sprung  from 
within  himself,  and  was  independent  of  external  circumstances  ; 
for  he  had  that  inexhaustible  good-nature,  which  is  the  most 
precious  gift  of  Heaven  ;  spreading  itself  like  oil  over  the  trou- 
bled sea  of  thought,  and  keeping  the  mind  smooth  and  equable 
in  the  roughest  weather. 

On  inquiring  further  about  him,  I  learnt  that  he  was  a  uni- 
versal favorite  in  the  village,  and  the  oracle  of  the  tap-room ; 
where  he  delighted  the  rustics  with  his  songs,  and,  like  Sindbad, 
astonished  them  with  his  stories  of  strange  lands,  and  ship- 
wrecks, and  sea-fights.  He  was  much  noticed  too  by  gentlemen 
sportsmen  of  the  neighborhood  ;  had  taught  several  of  them  the 
art  of  angling  j  and  was  a  privileged  visitor  to  their  kitchens. 
The  whole  tenor  of  his  life  was  quiet  and  inoffensive,  being 
principally  passed  about  the  neighboring  streams,  when  the 
weather  and  season  were  favorable  ;  and  at  other  times  he 
employed  himself  at  home,  preparing  his  fishing  tackle  for  the 
next  campaign,  or  manufacturing  rods,  nets,  and  flies,  for  his 
patrons  and  pupils  among  the  gentry. 

He  was  a  regular  attendant  at  church  on  Sundays,  though  he 
generally  fell  asleep  during  the  sermon.  He  had  made  it  his 
particular  request  that  when  he  died  he  should  be  buried  in  a 
green  spot,  which  he  could  see  from  his  seat  in  church,  and 
which  he  had  marked  out  ever  since  he  was  a  boy,  and  had 
thought  of  when  far  from  home  on  the  raging  sea,  in  danger  of 
being  food  for  the  fishes  —  it  was  the  spot  where  his  father  and 
mother  had  been  buried. 

I  have  done,  for  I  fear  that  my  reader  is  growing  weary  ;  but 
I  could  not  refrain  from  drawing  the  picture  of  this  worthy 
"  brother  of  the  angle  ;  "  who  has  made  me  more  than  ever  in 
love  with  the  theory,  though  I  fear  I  shall  never  be  adroit  in 
the  practice  of  his  art ;  and  I  will  conclude  this  rambling  sketch 
in  the  words  of  honest  Izaak  Walton,  by  craving  the  blessing 
of  St.  Peter's  Master  upon  my  reader,  u  and  upon  all  that  are 
true  lovers  of  virtue  ;  and  dare  trust  in  his  providence  ;  and  be 
quiet ;  and  go  a  angling." 


258  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 


THE   LEGEND   OF   SLEEPY   HOLLOW. 
(FOUND  AMONG  THE  PAPERS  OF  THE  LATE  DIEDRICH 

KNICKERBOCKER.) 

A  pleasing  land  of  drowsy  head  it  was, 

Of  dreams  that  wave  before  the  half -shut  eye; 

And  of  gay  castles  in  the  clouds  that  pass, 

Forever  flushing  round  a  summer  sky.  —  Castle  of  Indolence. 

IN  the  bosom  of  one  of  those  spacious  coves  which  indent 
the  eastern  shore  of  the  Hudson,  at  that  broad  expansion  of 
the  river  denominated  by  the  ancient  Dutch  navigators  the 
Tappan  Zee,  arid  where  they  always  prudently  shortened  sail, 
and  implored  the  protection  of  St.  Nicholas  when  they  crossed, 
there  lies  a  small  market  town  or  rural  port,  which  by  some  is 
called  Greensburgh,  but  which  is  more  generally  and  properly 
known  by  the  name  of  Tarry  Town.  This  name  was  given 
we  are  told,  in  former  days,  by  the  good  housewives  of  the 
adjacent  country,  from  the  inveterate  propensity  of  their  hus- 
bands to  linger  about  the  village  tavern  on  market  days.  Be 
that  as  it  may,  I  do  not  vouch  for  the  fact,  but  merely  advert 
to  it,  for  the  sake  of  being  precise  and  authentic.  Not  far 
from  this  village,  perhaps  about  two  miles,  there  is  a  little 
valley  or  rather  lap  of  land  among  high  hills,  which  is  one  of 
the  quietest  places  in  the  whole  world.  A  small  brook  glides 
through  it,  with  just  murmur  enough  to  lull  one  to  repose ;  and 
the  occasional  whistle  of  a  quail,  or  tapping  of  a  woodpecker, 
is  almost  the  only  sound  that  ever  breaks  in  upon  the  uniform 
tranquillity. 

I  recollect  that,  when  a  stripling,  my  first  exploit  in  squirrel- 
shooting  was  in  a  grove  of  tall  walnut-trees  that  shades  one 
side  of  the  valley.  I  had  wandered  into  it  at  noon-time  when 
all  nature  is  peculiarly  quiet,  and  was  startled  by  the  roar  of 
my  own  gun,  as  it  broke  the  sabbath  stillness  around,  and  was 
prolonged  and  reverberated  by  the  angry  echoes.  If  ever  I 
should  wish  for  a  retreat  whither  I  might  steal  from  the  world 
and  its  distractions,  and  dream  quietly  away  the  remnant  of  a 
troubled  life,  I  know  of  none  more  promising  than  this  little 
valley. 

From  the  listless  repose  of  the  place,  and  the  peculiar  char- 
acter of  its  inhabitants,  who  are  descendants  from  the  original 
Dutch  settlers,  this  sequestered  glen  has  long  been  known  by 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  259 

the  name  of  SLEEPY  HOLLOW,  and  its  rustic  lads  are  called  the 
Sleepy  Hollow  Boys  throughout  all  the  neighboring  country. 
A  drowsy,  dreamy  influence  seems  to  hang  over  the  land,  and 
to  pervade  the  very  atmosphere.  Some  say  that  the  place  was 
bewitched  by  a  high  German  doctor,  during  the  early  days  of 
the  settlement ;  others,  that  an  old  Indian  chief,  the  prophet 
or  wizard  of  his  tribe,  held  his  powwows  there  before  the  coun- 
try was  discovered  by  Master  Hendrick  Hudson.  Certain  it  is, 
the  place  still  continues  under  the  sway  of  some  witching 
power,  that  holds  a  spell  over  the  minds  of  the  good  people, 
causing  them  to  walk  in  a  continual  reverie.  They  are  given 
to  all  kinds  of  marvellous  beliefs ;  are  subject  to  trances  and 
visions,  and  frequently  see  strange  sights,  and  hear  music  and 
voices  in  the  air.  The  whole  neighborhood  abounds  with  local 
tales,  haunted  spots,  and  twilight  superstitions ;  stars  shoot 
and  meteors  glare  oftener  across  the  valley  than  in  any  other 
part  of  the  country,  and  the  night-mare,  with  her  whole  nine 
fold,  seems  to  make  it  the  favorite  scene  of  her  gambols. 

The  dominant  spirit,  however,  that  haunts  this  enchanted 
region,  and  seems  to  be  commander-in-chief  of  all  the  powers 
of  the  air,  is  the  apparition  of  a  figure  on  horseback  without  a 
head.  It  is  said  by  some  to  be  the  ghost  of  a  Hessian  trooper, 
whose  head  had  been  carried  away  by  a  cannon-ball,  in  some 
nameless  battle  during  the  revolutionary  war,  and  who  is  ever 
and  anon  seen  by  the  country  folk,  hurrying  along  in  the  gloom 
of  night,  as  if  on  the  wings  of  the  wind.  His  haunts  are 
not  confined  to  the  valley,  but  extend  at  times  to  the  adja- 
cent roads,  and  especially  to  the  vicinity  of  a  church  at  no 
great  distance.  Indeed,  certain  of  the  most  authentic  histori- 
ans of  those  parts,  who  have  been  careful  in  collecting  and 
collating  the  floating  facts  concerning  this  spectre,  allege,  that 
the  body  of  the  trooper  having  been  buried  in  the  churchyard, 
the  ghost  rides  forth  to  the  scene  of  battle  in  nightly  quest  of 
his  head,  and  that  the  rushing  speed  with  which  he  sometimes 
passes  along  the  hollow,  like  a  midnight  blast,  is  owing  to  his 
being  belated,  and  in  a  hurry  to  get  back  to  the  churchyard 
before  daybreak. 

Such  is  the  general  purport  of  this  legendary  superstition, 
which  has  furnished  materials  for  many  a  wild  story  in  that 
region  of  shadows ;  and  the  spectre  is  known  at  all  the  country 
firesides,  by  the  name  of  The  Headless  Horseman  of  Sleepy 
Hollow. 

It  is  remarkable,  that  the  visionary  propensity  I  have  men- 
tioned is  not  confined  to  the  native  inhabitants  of  the  valley, 


260  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

but  is  unconsciously  imbibed  by  every  one  who  resides  there 
for  a  time.  However  wide  awake  they  may  have  been  before 
they  entered  that  sleepy  region,  they  are  sure,  in  a  little  time, 
to  inhale  the  witching  influence  of  the  air,  and  begin  to  grow 
imaginative  —  to  dream  dreams,  and  see  apparitions. 

I  mention  this  peaceful  spot  with  all  possible  laud ;  for  it 
is  in  such  little  retired  Dutch  valleys,  found  here  and  there 
embosomed  in  the  great  State  of  New- York,  that  population, 
manners,  and  customs  remain  fixed,  while  the  great  torrent  of 
migration  and  improvement,  which  is  making  such  incessant 
changes  in  other  parts  of  this  restless  country,  sweeps  by  them 
unobserved.  They  are  like  those  little  nooks  of  still  water, 
which  border  a  rapid  stream,  where  we  may  see  the  straw  and 
bubble  riding  quietly  at  anchor,  or  slowty  revolving  in  their 
mimic  harbor,  undisturbed  by  the  rush  of  the  passing  current. 
Though  many  years  have  elapsed  since  I  trod  the  drowsy  shades 
of  Sleepy  Hollow,  yet  I  question  whether  I  should  not  still  find 
the  same  trees  and  the  same  families  vegetating  in  its  sheltered 
bosom . 

In  this  by-place  of  nature  there  abode,  in  a  remote  period  of 
American  history,  that  is  to  say,  some  thirty  years  since,  a 
worthy  wight  of  the  name  of  Ichabod  Crane,  who  sojourned, 
or,  as  he  expressed  it,  "  tarried,"  in  Sleepy  Hollow,  for  the 
purpose  of  instructing  the  children  of  the  vicinity.  He  was  a 
native  of  Connecticut,  a  State  which  supplies  the  Union  with 
pioneers  for  the  mind  as  well  as  for  the  forest,  and  sends  forth 
yearly  its  legions  of  frontier  woodsmen  and  country  school- 
masters. The  cognomen  of  Crane  was  not  inapplicable  to 
his  person.  He  was  tall,  but  exceedingly  lank,  with  narrow 
shoulders,  long  arms  and  legs,  hands  that  dangled  a  mile  out 
of  his  sleeves,  feet  that  might  have  served  for  shovels,  and  his 
whole  frame  most  loosely  hung  together.  His  head  was  small, 
and  flat  at  top,  with  huge  ears,  large  green  glassy  eyes,  and  a 
long  snipe  nose,  so  that  it  looked  like  a  weathercock  perched 
upon  his  spindle  neck,  to  tell  which  way  the  wind  blew.  To 
see  him  striding  along  the  profile  of  a  hill  on  a  windy  day, 
with  his  clothes  bagging  and  fluttering  about  him,  one  might 
have  mistaken  him  for  the  genius  of  famine  descending  upon 
the  earth,  or  some  scarecrow  eloped  from  a  cornfield. 

His  school-house  was  a  low  building  of  one  large  room, 
rudely  constructed  of  logs ;  the  windows  partly  glazed,  and 
partly  patched  with  leaves  of  old  copy-books.  It  was  most  in- 
geniously secured  at  vacant  hours  by  a  withe  twisted  in  the 
handle  of  the  door,  and  stakes  set  against  the  window-shutters ; 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  261 

so  that  though  a  thief  might  get  in  with  perfect  ease,  he  would 
find  some  embarrassment  in  getting  out :  —  an  idea  most  proba- 
bly borrowed  by  the  architect,  Yost  Van  Houten,  from  the 
mystery  of  an  eelpot.  The  school-house  stood  in  a  rather 
lonely  but  pleasant  situation,  just  at  the  foot  of  a  woody  hill, 
with  a  brook  running  close  by,  and  a  formidable  birch-tree 
growing  at  one  end  of  it.  From  hence  the  low  murmur  of  his 
pupil's  voices,  conning  over  their  lessons,  might  be  heard  in 
a  drowsy  summer's  day,  like  the  hum  of  a  beehive  ;  interrupted 
now  and  then  by  the  authoritative  voice  of  the  master,  in  the 
tone  of  menace  or  command ;  or,  peradventure,  by  the  appall- 
ing sound  of  the  birch,  as  he  urged  some  tardy  loiterer  along 
the  flowery  path  of  knowledge.  Truth  to  say,  he  was  a  con- 
scientious man,  that  and  bore  in  mind  the  golden  maxim, 
"spare  the  rod  and  spoil  the  child."  —  Ichabod  Crane's  scholars 
certainly  were  not  spoiled. 

I  would  not  have  it  imagined,  however,  that  he  was  one  of 
those  cruel  potentates  of  the  school,  who  joy  in  the  smart  of 
their  subjects ;  on  the  contrary,  he  administered  justice  with 
discrimination  rather  than  severity  ;  taking  the  burthen  off  the 
backs  of  the  weak,  and  laying  it  on  those  of  the  strong.  Your 
mere  puny  stripling  that  winced  at  the  least  flourish  of  the  rod, 
was  passed  by  with  indulgence  ;  but  the  claims  of  justice  were 
satisfied  by  inflicting  a  double  portion  on  some  little,  tough, 
wrong-headed,  broad-skirted  Dutch  urchin,  who  sulked  and 
swelled  and  grew  dogged  and  sullen  beneath  the  birch.  All 
this  he  called  "  doing  his  duty  by  their  parents  ;  "  and  he  never 
inflicted  a  chastisement  without  following  it  by  the  assurance, 
so  consolatory  to  the  smarting  urchin,  that  "  he  would  remem- 
ber it  and  thank  him  for  it  the  longest  day  he  had  to  live." 

When  school  hours  were  over,  he  was  even  the  companion 
and  playmate  of  the  larger  boys  ;  and  on  holiday  afternoons 
would  convoy  some  of  the  smaller  ones  home,  who  happened 
to  have  pretty  sisters,  or  good  housewives  for  mothers,  noted 
for  the  comforts  of  the  cupboard.  Indeed,  it  behooved  him  to 
keep  on  good  terms  with  his  pupils.  The  revenue  arising  from 
his  school  was  small,  and  would  have  been  scarcely  sufficient 
to  furnish  him  with  daily  bread,  for  he  was  a  huge  feeder,  and 
though  lank,  had  the  dilating  powers  of  an  anaconda ;  but  to 
help  out  his  maintenance,  he  was,  according  to  country  custom 
in  those  parts,  boarded  and  lodged  at  the  houses  of  the  farmers, 
whose  children  he  instructed.  With  these  he  lived  successively, 
a  week  at  a  time,  thus  going  the  rounds  of  the  neighborhood, 
with  all  his  worldly  effects  tied  up  in  a  cotton  handkerchief. 


262  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

That  all  this  might  not  be  too  onerous  on  the  purses  of  his 
rustic  patrons,  who  are  apt  to  consider  the  costs  of  schooling  a 
grievous  burthen,  and  schoolmasters  as  mere  drones,  he  had 
various  ways  of  rendering  himself  both  useful  and  agreeable. 
He  assisted  the  farmers  occasionally  in  the  lighter  labors  of 
their  farms ;  helped  to  make  hay  ;  mended  the  fences  ;  took 
the  horses  to  water ;  drove  the  cows  from  pasture ;  and  cut 
wood  for  the  winter  fire.  He  laid  aside,  too,  all  the  dominant 
dignity  and  absolute  swa}',  with  which  he  lorded  it  in  his  little 
empire,  the  school,  and  became  wonderfully  gentle  and  ingrati- 
ating. He  found  favor  in  the  eyes  of  the  mothers,  by  petting 
the  children,  particularly  the  youngest ;  and  like  the  lion  bold, 
which  whilom  so  magnanimously  the  lamb  did  hold,  he  would 
sit  with  a  child  on  one  knee,  and  rock  a  cradle  with  his  foot  for 
whole  hours  together. 

In  addition  to  his  other  vocations,  he  was  the  singing-master 
of  the  neighborhood,  and  picked  up  many  bright  shillings  by 
instructing  the  young  folks  in  psalmody.  It  was  a  matter  of 
no  little  vanity  to  him  on  Sundays,  to  take  his  station  in  front 
of  the  church  gallery,  with  a  baud  of  chosen  singers  ;  where,  in 
his  own  mind,  he  completely  carried  away  the  palm  from  the 
parson.  Certain  it  is,  his  voice  resounded  far  above  all  the  rest 
of  the  congregation,  and  there  are  peculiar  quavers  still  to  be 
heard  in  that  church,  and  which  may  even  be  heard  half  a  mile 
off,  quite  to  the  opposite  side  of  the  mill-pond,  on  a  still  Sunday 
morning,  which  are  said  to  be  legitimately  descended  from  the 
nose  of  Ichabod  Crane.  Thus,  by  divers  little  makeshifts,  in 
that  ingenious  way  which  is  commonly  denominated  "  by  hook 
and  by  crook,"  the  worthy  pedagogue  got  on  tolerably  enough, 
and  was  thought,  by  all  who  understood  nothing  of  the  labor  of 
head-work,  to  have  a  wonderfully  easy  life  of  it. 

The  schoolmaster  is  generally  a  man  of  some  importance  in 
the  female  circle  of  a  rural  neighborhood  ;  being  considered  a 
kind  of  idle  gentleman-like  personage,  of  vastly  superior  taste 
and  accomplishments  to  the  rough  country  swains,  and,  in- 
deed, inferior  in  learning  only  to  the  parson.  His  appearance, 
therefore,  is  apt  to  occasion  some  little  stir  at  the  tea-table  of  a 
farm-house,  and  the  addition  of  a  supernumerary  dish  of  cakes 
or  sweetmeats,  or,  peradventure,  the  parade  of  a  silver  teapot. 
Our  man  of  letters,  therefore,  was  peculiarly  happy  in  the  smiles 
of  all  the  country  damsels.  How  he  would  figure  among  them 
in  the  churchyard,  between  services  on  Sundays!  gathering 
grapes  for  them  from  the  wild  vines  that  overrun  the  surround- 
ing trees  ;  reciting  for  their  amusement  all  the  epitaphs  on  the 


THE  LEGEND  OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.      263 

tombstones ;  or  sauntering  with  a  whole  bevy  of  them,  along 
the  banks  of  the  adjacent  mill-pond :  while  the  more  bashful 
country  bumpkins  hung  sheepishly  back,  envying  his  superior 
elegance  and  address. 

From  his  half  itinerant  life,  also,  he  was  a  kind  of  travelling 
gazette,  carrying  the  whole  budget  of  local  gossip  from  house 
to  house  ;  so  that  his  appearance  was  always  greeted  with  satis- 
faction. He  was,  moreover,  esteemed  by  the  women  as  a  man 
of  great  erudition,  for  he  had  read  several  books  quite  through, 
and  was  a  perfect  master  of  Cotton  Mather's  History  of  New- 
England  Witchcraft,  in  which,  by  the  way,  he  most  firmly  and 
potently  believed. 

He  was,  in  fact,  an  odd  mixture  of  small  shrewdness  and 
simple  credulity.  His  appetite  for  the  marvellous,  and  his 
powers  of  digesting  it,  were  equally  extraordinary ;  and  both 
had  been  increased  by  his  residence  in  this  spell-bound  region. 
No  tale  was  too  gross  or  monstrous  for  his  capacious  swallow. 
It  was  often  his  delight,  after  his  school  was  dismissed  in  the 
afternoon,  to  stretch  himself  on  the  rich  bed  of  clover,  border- 
ing the  little  brook  that  whimpered  by  his  school-house,  and 
there  con  over  old  Mather's  direful  tales,  until  the  gathering 
dusk  of  evening  made  the  printed  page  a  mere  mist  before  his 
eyes.  Then,  as  he  wended  his  way,  by  swamp  and  stream 
and  awful  woodland,  to  the  farm-house  where  he  happened  to 
be  quartered,  every  sound  of  nature,  at  that  witching  hour, 
fluttered  his  excited  imagination ;  the  moan  of  the  whip-poor- 
will  *  from  the  hill-side ;  the  boding  cry  of  the  tree-toad,  that 
harbinger  of  storm  ;  the  dreary  hooting  of  the  screech-owl ;  or 
the  sudden  rustling  in  the  thicket,  of  birds  frightened  from 
their  roosjt.  The  fire-flies,  too,  which  sparkled  most  vividly  in 
the  darkest  places,  now  and  then  startled  him,  as  one  of  un- 
common brightness  would  stream  across  his  path ;  and  if,  by 
chance,  a  huge  blockhead  of  a  beetle  came  winging  his  blunder- 
ing flight  against  him,  the  poor  varlet  was  ready  to  give  up  the 
ghost,  with  the  idea  that  he  was  struck  with  a  witch's  token. 
His  only  resource  on  such  occasions,  either  to  drown  thought, 
or  drive  away  evil  spirits,  was  to  sing  psalm  tunes  ;  —  and  the 
good  people  of  Sleepy  Hollow,  as  they  sat  by  their  doors  of 
an  evening,  were  often  filled  with  awe,  at  hearing  his  nasal 
melody,  "  in  linked  sweetness  long  drawn  out,"  floating  from 
the  distant  hill,  or  along  the  dusky  road. 


1  The  whip-poor-will  is  a  bird  which  is  only  heard  at  night.    It  receives  its  name 
from  its  note,  which  is  thought  to  resemble  those  words. 


264  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Another  of  his  sources  of  fearful  pleasure  was,  to  pass  long 
winter  evenings  with  the  old  Dutch  wives,  as  they  sat  spinning 
by  the  fire,  with  a  row  of  apples  roasting  and  spluttering  along 
the  hearth,  and  listen  to  their  marvellous  tales  of  ghosts,  and 
goblins,  and  haunted  fields  and  haunted  brooks,  and  haunted 
bridges  and  haunted  houses,  and  particularly  of  the  headless 
horseman,  or  galloping  Hessian  of  the  Hollow,  as  they  some- 
times called  him.  He  would  delight  them  equally  by  his  anec- 
dotes of  witchcraft,  and  of  the  direful  omens  and  portentous 
sights  and  sounds  in  the  air,  which  prevailed  in  the  earlier 
times  of  Connecticut ;  and  would  frighten  them  wofully  with 
speculations  upon  comets  and  shooting  stars,  and  with  the 
alarming  fact  that  the  world  did  absolutely  turn  round,  and 
that  they  were  half  the  time  topsy-turvy  ! 

But  if  there  was  a  pleasure  in  all  this,  while  snugly  cuddling 
in  the  chimney  corner  of  a  chamber  that  was  all  of  a  ruddy 
glow  from  the  crackling  wood  fire,  and  where,  of  course,  no 
spectre  dared  to  show  his  face,  it  was  dearly  purchased  by  the 
terrors  of  his  subsequent  walk  homewards.  What  fearful 
shapes  and  shadows  beset  his  path,  amidst  the  dim  and  ghastly 
glare  of  a  snowy  night !  —  With  what  wistful  look  did  he  eye 
every  trembling  ray  of  light  streaming  across  the  waste  fields 
from  some  distant  window  !  —  How  often  was  he  appalled  by 
some  shrub  covered  with  snow,  which  like  a  sheeted  spectre 
beset  his  very  path  !  —  How  often  did  he  shrink  with  curdling 
awe  at  the  sound  of  his  own  steps  on  the  frosty  crust  beneath 
his  feet ;  and  dread  to  look  over  his  shoulder,  lest  he  should 
behold  some  uncouth  being  tramping  close  behind  him!  —  and 
how  often  was  he  thrown  into  complete  dismay  by  some  rush- 
ing blast,  howling  among  the  trees,  in  the  idea  that  it  was  the 
galloping  Hessian  on  one  of  his  nightly  scourings ! 

All  these,  however,  were  mere  terrors  of  the  night,  phantoms 
of  the  mind,  that  walk  in  darkness :  and  though  he  had  seen 
many  spectres  .in  his  time,  and  been  more  than  once  beset  by 
Satan  in  divers  shapes,  in  his  lonely  perambulations,  yet  day- 
light put  an  end  to  all  these  evils ;  and  he  would  have  passed 
a  pleasant  life  of  it,  in  despite  of  the  Devil  and  all  his  works, 
if  his  path  had  not  been  crossed  by  a  being  that  causes  more 
perplexity  to  mortal  man,  than  ghosts,  goblins,  and  the  whole 
race  of  witches  put  together;  and  that  was  —  a  woman. 

Among  the  musical  disciples  who  assembled,  one  evening 
in  each  week  to  receive  his  instructions  in  psalmod}',  was 
Katrina  Van  Tassel,  the  daughter  and  only  child  of  a  substan- 
tial Dutch  farmer.  She  was  a  blooming  lass  of  fresh  eighteen ; 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  265 

plump  as  a  partridge  ;  ripe  and  melting  and  rosy-cheeked  as 
one  of  her  father's  peaches,  and  universally  famed,  not  merely 
for  her  beauty,  but  her  vast  expectations.  She  was  withal  a 
little  of  a  coquette,  as  might  be  perceived  even  in  her  dress, 
which  was  a  mixture  of  ancient  and  modern  fashions,  as  most 
suited  to  set  off  her  charms.  She  wore  the  ornaments  of  pure 
yellow  gold,  which  her  great-great-grandmother  had  brought 
over  from  Saardam  ;  the  tempting  stomacher  of  the  olden  time, 
and  withal  a  provokingly  short  petticoat,  to  display  the  prettiest 
foot  and  ankle  in  the  country  round. 

Ichabod  Crane  had  a  soft  and  foolish  heart  toward  the  sex  ; 
and  it  is  not  to  be  wondered  at,  that  so  tempting  a  morsel  soon 
found  favor  in  his  eyes,  more  especially  after  he  had  visited  her 
in  her  paternal  mansion.  Old  Baltus  Van  Tassel  was  a  perfect 
picture  of  a  thriving,  contented,  liberal-hearted  farmer.  He 
seldom,  it  is  true,  sent  either  his  eyes  or  his  thoughts  beyond 
the  boundaries  of  his  own  farm  ;  but  within  those,  every  thing 
was  snug,  happy,  and  well-conditioned.  He  was  satisfied  with 
his  wealth,  but  not  proud  of  it ;  and  piqued  himself  upon  the 
hearty  abundance,  rather  than  the  style  in  which  he  lived.  His 
stronghold  was  situated  on  the  banks  of  the  Hudson,  in  one  of 
those  green,  sheltered,  fertile  nooks,  in  which  the  Dutch  farm- 
ers are  so  fond  of  nestling.  A  great  elm-tree  spread  its  broad 
branches  over  it ;  at  the  foot  of  which  bubbled  up  a  spring  of 
the  softest  and  sweetest,  water,  in  a  little  well,  formed  of  a 
barrel ;  and  then  stole  sparkling  away  through  the  grass,  to  a 
neighboring  brook,  that  babbled  along  among  alders  and  dwarf 
willows.  Hard  by  the  farm-house  was  a  vast  barn,  that  might 
have  served  for  a  church ;  every  window  and  crevice  of  which 
seemed  bursting  forth  with  the  treasures  of  the  farm  ;  the  flail 
was  busily  resounding  within  it  from  morning  to  night ;  swal- 
lows and  martens  skimmed  twittering  about  the  eaves  ;  and  rows 
of  pigeons,  some  with  one  eye  turned  up,  as  if  watching  the 
weather,  some  with  their  heads  under  their  wings,  or  buried  in 
their  bosoms,  and  others,  swelling,  and  cooing,  and  bowing 
about  their  dames,  were  enjoying  the  sunshine  on  the  roof. 
Sleek,  unwieldy  porkers  were  grunting  in  the  repose  and 
abundance  of  their  pens,  whence  sallied  forth,  now  and  then, 
troops  of  sucking  pigs,  as  if  to  snuff  the  air.  A  stately  squad- 
ron of  snowy  geese  were  riding  in  an  adjoining  pond,  convoy- 
ing whole  fleets  of  ducks  ;  regiments  of  turkeys  were  gobbling 
through  the  farm-yard,  and  guinea-fowls  fretting  about  it  like 
ill-tempered  housewives,  with  their  peevish,  discontented  cry. 
Before  the  barn  door  strutted  the  gallant  cock,  that  pattern  of 


266  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

a  husband,  a  warrior,  and  a  fine  gentleman  ;  clapping  his  bur- 
nished wings  and  crowing  in  the  pride  and  gladness  of  his 
heart  —  sometimes  tearing  up  the  earth  with  his  feet,  and  then 
generously  calling  his  ever-hungry  family  of  wives  and  chil- 
dren to  enjoy  the  rich  morsel  which  he  had  discovered. 

The  pedagogue's  mouth  watered,  as  he  looked  upon  this 
sumptuous  promise  of  luxurious  winter  fare.  In  his  devouring 
mind's  eye,  he  pictured  to  himself  every  roasting  pig  running 
about,  with  a  pudding  in  his  belly,  and  an  apple  in  his  mouth ; 
the  pigeons  were  snugly  put  to  bed  in  a  comfortable  pie,  and 
tucked  in  with  a  coverlet  of  crust ;  the  geese  were  swimming 
in  their  own  gravy  ;  and  the  ducks  pairing  cosily  in  dishes,  like 
snug  married  couples,  with  a  decent  competency  of  onion  sauce. 
In  the  porkers  he  saw  carved  out  the  future  sleek  side  of  bacon, 
and  juicy  relishing  ham ;  not  a  turkey,  but  he  beheld  daintily 
trussed  up,  with  its  gizzard  under  its  wing,  and,  peradventure, 
a  necklace  of  savory  sausages ;  and  even  bright  chanticleer 
himself  lay  sprawling  on  his  back,  in  a  side  dish,  with  uplifted 
claws,  as  if  craving  that  quarter  which  his  chivalrous  spirit  dis- 
dained to  ask  while  living. 

As  the  enraptured  Ichabod  fancied  all  this,  and  as  he  rolled 
his  great  green  eyes  over  the  fat  meadow  lands,  the  rich  fields 
of  wheat,  of  rye,  of  buckwheat,  and  Indian  corn,  and  the  or- 
chards burthened  with  ruddy  fruit,  which  surrounded  the  warm 
tenement  of  Van  Tassel,  his  heart  yearned  after  the  damsel 
who  was  to  inherit  these  domains,  and  his  imagination  ex- 
panded with  the  idea,  how  they  might  be  readily  turned  into 
cash,  and  the  money  invested  in  immense  tracts  of  wild  land, 
and  shingle  palaces  in  the  wilderness.  Nay,  his  busy  fancy 
already  realized  his  hopes,  and  presented  to  him  the  blooming 
Katrina,  with  a  whole  family  of  children,  mounted  on  the  top 
of  a  wagon  loaded  with  household  trumpery,  with  pots  and 
kettles  dangling  beneath ;  and  he  beheld  himself  bestriding  a 
pacing  mare,  with  a  colt  at  her  heels 5  setting  out  for  Kentucky, 
Tennessee  —  or  the  Lord  knows  where  ! 

When  he  entered  the  house,  the  conquest  of  his  heart  was 
complete.  It  was  one  of  those  spacious  farm-houses,  with  high- 
ridged,  but  lowly-sloping  roofs,  built  in  the  style  handed  down 
from  the  first  Dutch  settlers.  The  low  projecting  eaves  form- 
ing a  piazza  along  the  front,  capable  of  being  closed  up  in  bad 
weather.  Under  this  were  hung  flails,  harness,  various  utensils 
of  husbandly,  and  nets  for  fishing  in  the  neighboring  river. 
Benches  were  built  along  the  sides  for  summer  use  ;  and  a  great 
spinning-wheel  at  one  end,  and  a  churn  at  the  other,  showed 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  267 

the  various  uses  to  which  this  important  porch  might  be  de- 
voted. From  this  piazza  the  wondering  Ichabod  entered  the 
hall,  which  formed  the  centre  of  the  mansion,  and  the  place  of 
usual  residence.  Here  rows  of  resplendent  pewter,  ranged  on  a 
long  dresser,  dazzled  his  eyes.  In  one  corner  stood  a  huge  bag 
of  wool,  ready  to  be  spun ;  in  another,  a  quantity  of  linsey- 
woolsey,  just  from  the  loom  ;  ears  of  Indian  corn,  and  strings  of 
dried  apples  and  peaches,  Hung  in  gay  festoons  along  the  walls, 
mingled  with  the  gaud  of  red  peppers ;  and  a  door  left  ajar, 
gave  him  a  peep  into  the  best  parlor,  where  the  claw-footed 
chairs,  and  dark  mahogany  tables,  shone  like  mirrors  ;  and- 
irons, with  their  accompanying  shovel  and  tongs,  glistened 
from  their  covert  of  asparagus  tops ;  mock-oranges  and  conch 
shells  decorated  the  mantelpiece  ;  strings  of  various  colored 
birds'  eggs  were  suspended  above  it ;  a  great  ostrich  egg  was 
hung  from  the  centre  of  the  room,  and  a  corner  cupboard, 
knowingly  left  open,  displayed  immense  treasures  of  old  silver 
and  well-mended  china. 

From  the  moment  Ichabod  laid  his  eyes  upon  these  regions 
of  delight,  the  peace  of  his  mind  was  at  an  end,  and  hi* 
only  study  was  how  to  gain  the  affections  of  the  peerless 
daughter  of  Van  Tassel.  In  this  enterprise,  however,  he  had 
more  real  difficulties  than  generally  fell  to  the  lot  of  a  knight- 
errant  of  yore,  who  seldom  had  any  thing  but  giants,  enchant- 
ers, fiery  dragons,  and  such  like  easily  conquered  adversaries, 
to  contend  with ;  and  had  to  make  his  way  merely  through 
gates  of  iron  and  brass,  and  walls  of  adamant  to  the  castle- 
keep  where  the  lady  of  his  heart  was  confined ;  all  which  he 
achieved  as  easily  as  a  man  would  carve  his  way  to  the  centre 
of  a  Christmas  pie,  and  then  the  lady  gave  him  her  hand  as  a 
matter  of  course.  Ichabod,  on  the  contrary,  had  to  win  his 
way  to  the  heart  of  a  country  coquette  beset  with  a  labyrinth 
of  whims  and  caprices,  which  were  forever  presenting  new 
difficulties  and  impediments,  and  he  had  to  encounter  a  host  of 
fearful  adversaries  of  real  flesh  and  blood,  the  numerous  rustic 
admirers,  who  beset  every  portal  to  her  heart ;  keeping  a  watch- 
ful and  angry  eye  upon  each  other,  but  ready  to  fly  out  in  the 
common  cause  against  any  new  competitor. 

Among  these  the  most  formidable  was  a  burly,  roaring, 
roystering  blade  of  the  name  of  Abraham,  or  according  to 
the  Dutch  abbreviation,  Brom  Van  Brunt,  the  hero  of  the 
country  round,  which  rang  with  his  feats  of  strength  and  har- 
dihood. He  was  broad-shouldered  and  double-jointed,  with 
short  curly  black  hair,  and  a  bluff  but  not  unpleasant  coun- 


268  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

tenance,  having  a  mingled  air  of  fun  and  arrogance.  From 
his  Herculean  frame  and  great  powers  of  limb,  he  had  received 
the  nickname  of  BROM  BONES,  by  which  he  was  universally 
known.  He  was  famed  for  great  knowledge  and  skill  in 
horsemanship,  being  as  dexterous  on  horseback  as  a  Tartar. 
He  was  foremost  at  all  races  and  cock-fights,  and  with  the 
ascendency  which  bodily  strength  acquires  in  rustic  life, 
was  the  umpire  in  all  disputes,  setting  his  hat  on  one  side, 
and  giving  his  decisions  with  an  air  and  tone  admitting  of 
no  gainsay  or  appeal.  He  was  always  ready  for  either  a 
fight  or  a  frolic;  but  had  more  mischief  than  ill-will  in 
his  composition ;  and  with  all  his  overbearing  roughness  there 
was  a  strong  dash  of  waggish  good-humor  at  bottom.  He 
had  three  or  four  boon  companions  who  regarded  him  as  their 
model,  and  at  the  head  of  whom  he  scoured  the  country, 
attending  every  scene  of  feud  or  merriment  for  miles  round. 
In  cold  weather  he  was  distinguished  by  a  fur  cap,  surmounted 
with  a  flaunting  fox's  tail ;  and  when  the  folks  at  a  country 
gathering  descried  this  well-known  crest  at  a  distance,  whisking 
about  among  a  squad  of  hard  riders,  they  always  stood  by  for 
a  squall.  Sometimes  his  crew  would  be  heard  dashing  along 
past  the  farm-houses  at  midnight,  with  whoop  and  halloo,  like 
a  troop  of  Don  Cossacks,  and  the  old  dames,  startled  out  of 
their  sleep,  would  listen  for  a  moment  till  the  hurry-scurry  had 
clattered  by,  and  then  exclaim,  "Ay,  there  goes  Brom  Bones 
and  his  gang!  "  The  neighbors  looked  upon  him  with  a  mix- 
ture of  awe,  admiration,  and  good-will ;  and  when  any  madcap 
prank  or  rustic  brawl  occurred  in  the  vicinity,  always  shook 
their  heads,  and  warranted  Brom  Bones  was  at  the  bottom  of  it. 

This  rantipole  hero  had  for  some  time  singled  out  the  bloom- 
ing Katrina  for  the  object  of  his  uncouth  gallantries,  and 
though  his  amorous  toyings  were  something  like  the  gentle 
caresses  and  endearments  of  a  bear,  j*et  it  was  whispered  that 
she  did  not  altogether  discourage  his  hopes.  Certain  it  is,  his 
advances  were  signals  for  rival  candidates  to  retire,  who  felt 
no  inclination  to  cross  a  lion  in  his  amours  ;  insomuch,  that 
when  his  horse  was  seen  tied  to  Van  Tassel's  paling,  on  a 
Sunday  night,  a  sure  sign  that  his  master  was  courting,  or,  as 
it  is  termed,  4t  sparking,"  within,  all  other  suitors  passed  by  in 
despair,  and  carried  the  war  into  other  quarters. 

Such  was  the  formidable  rival  with  whom  Ichabod  Crane  had 
to  contend,  and  considering  all  things,  a  stouter  man  than  he 
would  have  shrunk  from  the  competition,  and  a  wiser  man  would 
have  despaired.  He  had,  however,  a  happy  mixture  of  plia- 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  269 

bility  and  perseverance  in  his  nature ;  he  was  in  form  and  spirit 
like  a  supple-jack  —  yielding,  but  tough;  though  he  bent,  he 
never  broke  ;  and  though  he  bowed  beneath  the  slightest  pressure, 
yet  the  moment  it  was  away  —  jerk !  —  he  was  as  erect,  and 
carried  his  head  as  high  as  ever. 

To  have  taken  the  field  openly  against  his  rival,  would  have 
been  madness  ;  for  he  was  not  a  man  to  be  thwarted  in  his 
amours,  an}'  more  than  that  stormy  lover,  Achilles.  Ichabod, 
therefore,  made  his  advances  in  a  quiet  and  gently-insinuating 
manner.  Under  cover  of  his  character  of  singing-master,  he 
made  frequent  visits  at  the  farm-house  ;  not  that  he  had  any 
thing  to  apprehend  from  the  meddlesome  interference  of  parents, 
which  is  so  often  a  stumbling-block  in  the  path  of  lovers.  Bait 
Van  Tassel  was  an  easy  indulgent  soul ;  he  loved  his  daughter 
better  even  than  his  pipe,  and,  like  a  reasonable  man.  and  an  ex- 
cellent father,  let  her  have  her  way  in  every  thing.  His  notable 
little  wife,  too,  had  enough  to  do  to  attend  to  her  housekeeping 
and  manage  her  poultry  ;  for,  as  she  sagely  observed,  ducks 
and  geese  are  foolish  things,  and  must  be  looked  after,  but 
girls  can  take  care  of  themselves.  Thus,  while  the  busy  dame 
bustled  about  the  house,  or  plied  her  spinning-wheel  at  one  end 
of  the  piazza,  honest  Bait  would  sit  smoking  his  evening  pipe 
at  the  other,  watching  the  achievements  of  a  little  wooden  war- 
rior, who,  armed  with  a  sword  in  each  hand,  was  most  valiantly 
fighting  the  wind  on  the  pinnacle  of  the  barn.  In  the  mean 
time,  Ichabod  would  carry  on  his  suit  with  the  daughter  by  the 
side  of  the  spring  under  the  great  elm,  or  sauntering  along  in 
the  twilight,  that  hour  so  favorable  to  the  lover's  eloquence. 

I  profess  not  to  know  how  women's  hearts  are  wooed  and 
won.  To  me  they  have  always  been  matters  of  riddle  and  ad- 
miration. Some  seem  to  have  but  one  vulnerable  point,  or  door 
of  access ;  while  others  have  a  thousand  avenues,  and  may  be 
captured  in  a  thousand  different  ways.  It  is  a  great  triumph 
of  skill  to  gain  the  former,  but  a  still  greater  proof  of  general- 
ship to  maintain  possession  of  the  latter,  for  a  man  must  battle 
for  his  fortress  at  every  door  and  window.  He  who  wins  a 
thousand  common  hearts,  is  therefore  entitled  to  some  renown  ; 
but  he  who  keeps  undisputed  sway  over  the  heart  of  a  coquette, 
is  indeed  a  hero.  Certain  it  is,  this  was  not  the  case  with  the 
redoubtable  Brom  Bones ;  and  from  the  moment  Ichabod  Crane 
made  his  advances,  the  interests  of  the  former  evidently  de- 
clined :  his  horse  was  no  longer  seen  tied  at  the  palings  on 
Sunday  nights,  and  a  deadly  feud  gradually  arose  between  him 
and  the  preceptor  of  Sleep}-  Hollow. 


270  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Brom,  who  had  a  degree  of  rough  chivalry  in  his  nature, 
would  fain  have  carried  matters  to  open  warfare,  and  have  settled 
their  pretensions  to  the  lady,  according  to  the  mode  of  those 
most  concise  and  simple  reasoners,  the  knights-errant  of  yore 
—  by  single  combat ;  but  Ichabod  was  too  conscious  of  the  su- 
perior might  of  his  adversary  to  enter  the  lists  against  him  ; 
he  had  overheard  a  boast  of  Bones,  that  he  would  u  double  the 
schoolmaster  up,  and  lay  him  on  a  shelf  of  his  own  school-house  ;" 
and  he  was  too  wary  to  give  him  an  opportunity.  There  was  some- 
thing extremely  provoking  in  this  obstinately  pacific  system ;  it  left 
Brom  no  alternative  but  to  draw  upon  the  funds  of  rustic  wag- 
gery in  his  disposition,  and  to  play  off  boorish  practical  jokes 
upon  his  rival.  Ichabod  became  the  object  of  whimsical  perse- 
cution to  Bones,  and  his  gang  of  rough  riders.  They  harried 
his  hitherto  peaceful  domains ;  smoked  out  his  singing-school, 
by  stopping  up  the  chimney ;  broke  into  the  school-house  at 
night,  in  spite  of  its  formidable  fastenings  of  withe  and  win- 
dow stakes,  and  turned  every  thing  topsy-turvy  ;  so  that  the 
poor  schoolmaster  began  to  think  all  the  witches  in  the  country 
held  their  meetings  there.  But  what  was  still  more  annoying, 
Brom  took  all  opportunities  of  turning  him  into  ridicule  in  pres- 
ence of  his  mistress,  and  had  a  scoundrel  dog  whom  he  taught 
to  whine  in  the  most  ludicrous  manner,  and  introduced  as  a 
rival  of  Ichabod's,  to  instruct  her  in  psalmody. 

In  this  way,  matters  went  on  for  some  time,  without  pro- 
ducing any  material  effect  on  the  relative  situations  of  the  con- 
tending powers.  On  a  fine  autumnal  afternoon,  Ichabod,  in 
pensive  mood,  sat  enthroned  on  the  lofty  stool  whence  he  usu- 
ally watched  all  the  concerns  of  his  little  literary  realm.  Jn 
his  hand  he  swayed  a  ferule,  that  sceptre  of  despotic  power ; 
the  birch  of  justice  reposed  on  three  nails,  behind  the  throne,  a 
constant  terror  to  evil  doers ;  while  on  the  desk  before  him 
might  be  seen  sundry  contraband  articles  and  prohibited  weap- 
ons, detected  upon  the  persons  of  idle  urchins ;  such  as  half- 
munched  apples,  popguns,  whirligigs,  fly-cages,  and  whole 
legions  of  rampant  little  paper  game-cocks.  Apparently  there 
had  been  some  appalling  act  of  justice  recently  inflicted,  for 
his  scholars  were  all  busily  intent  upon  their  books,  or  slyly 
whispering  behind  them  with  one  eye  kept  upon  the  master  ;  and 
a  kind  of  buzzing  stillness  reigned  throughout  the  school- room. 
It  was  suddenly  interrupted  by  the  appearance  of  a  negro  in 
tow-cloth  jacket  and  trowsers,  a  round-crowned  fragment  of 
a  hat,  like  the  cap  of  Mercury,  and  mounted  on  the  back  of  a 
ragged,  wild,  half-broken  colt,  which  he  managed  with  a  rope 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  271 

by  way  of  halter.  He  came  clattering  up  to  the  school-door 
with  an  invitation  to  Ichabod  to  attend  a  merry-making,  or 
"  quilting  frolic,"  to  be  held  that  evening  at  Mynheer  Van  Tas- 
sel's ;  and  having  delivered  his  message  with  that  air  of  impor- 
tance, and  effort  at  fine  language,  which  a  negro  is  apt  to 
display  on  petty  embassies  of  the  kind,  he  dashed  over  the 
brook,  and  was  seen  scampering  away  up  the  hollow,  full  of 
the  importance  and  hurry  of  his  mission. 

All  was  now  bustle  and  hubbub  in  the  late  quiet  school-room. 
The  scholars  were  hurried  through  their  lessons,  without  stop- 
ping at  trifles  ;  those  who  were  nimble,  skipped  over  half  with 
impunity,  and  those  who  were  tardy,  had  a  smart  application 
now  and  then  in  the  rear,  to  quicken  their  speed,  or  help  them 
over  a  tall  word.  Books  were  flung  aside,  without  being  put 
away  on  the  shelves ;  inkstands  were  overturned,  benches 
thrown  down,  and  the  whole  school  was  turned  loose  an  hour 
before  the  usual  time ;  bursting  forth  like  a  legion  of  young 
imps,  yelping  and  racketing  about  the  green,  in  joy  at  their 
early  emancipation. 

The  gallant  Ichabod  now  spent  at  least  an  extra  half-hour  at 
his  toilet,  brushing  and  furbishing  up  his  best,  and  indeed  only 
suit  of  rusty  black,  and  arranging  his  locks  by  a  bit  of  broken 
looking-glass,  that  hung  up  in  the  school-house.  That  he 
might  make  his  appearance  before  his  mistress  in  the  true 
style  of  a  cavalier,  he  borrowed  a  horse  from  the  farmer  with 
whom  he  was  domiciliated,  a  choleric  old  Dutchman,  of  the 
name  of  Hans  Van  Ripper,  and  thus  gallantly  mounted,  issued 
forth  like  a  knight-errant  in  quest  of  adventures.  But  it  is 
meet  I  should,  in  the  true  spirit  of  romantic  story,  give  some 
account  of  the  looks  and  equipments  of  my  hero  and  his  steed. 

The  animal  he  bestrode  was  a  broken-down  plough-horse, 
that  had  outlived  almost  every  thing  but  his  viciousness.  He 
was  gaunt  and  shagged,  with  a  ewe  neck  and  a  head  like  a 
hammer ;  his  rusty  mane  and  tail  were  tangled  and  knotted 
with  burrs ;  one  eye  had  lost  its  pupil,  and  was  glaring  and 
spectral,  but  the  other  had  the  gleam  of  a  genuine  devil  in  it. 
Still  he  must  have  had  fire  and  mettle  in  his  day,  if  we  may 
judge  from  his  name,  which  was  Gunpowder.  He  had,  in  fact, 
been  a  favorite  steed  of  his  master's,  the  choleric  Van  Ripper, 
who  was  a  furious  rider,  and  had  infused,  very  probably, 
some  of  his  own  spirit  into  the  animal ;  for,  old  and  broken- 
down  as  he  looked,  there  was  more  of  the  lurking  devil  in  him 
than  in  any  young  filly  in  the  country. 

Ichabod  was  a  suitable  figure  for  such  a  steed.    He  rode  with 


272  TflE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

short  stirrups,  which  brought  his  knees  nearly  up  to  the  pom- 
mel of  the  saddle  ;  his  sharp  elbows  stuck  out  like  grasshop- 
pers' ;  he  carried  his  whip  perpendicularly  in  his  hand,  like  a 
sceptre,  and  as  his  horse  jogged  on,  the  motion  of  his  arms 
was  not  unlike  the  flapping  of  a  pair  of  wings.  A  small  wool 
hat  rested  on  the  top  of  his. nose,  for  so  his  scanty  strip  of 
forehead  might  be  called,  and  the  skirts  of  his  black  coat  flut- 
tered out  almost  to  the  horse's  tail.  Such  was  the  appearance 
of  Ichabod  and  his  steed  as  they  shambled  out  of  the  gate  of 
Hans  Van  Ripper,  and  it  was  altogether  such  an  apparition  as 
is  seldom  to  be  met  with  in  broad  daylight. 

It  was,  as  I  have  said,  a  fine  autumnal  day ;  the  sky  was 
clear  and  serene,  and  nature  wore  that  rich  and  golden  livery 
which  we  always  associate  with  the  idea  of  abundance.  The 
forests  had  put  on  their  sober  brown  and  yellow,  while  some 
trees  of  the  tenderer  kind  had  been  nipped  by  the  frosts  into 
brilliant  dyes  of  orange,  purple,  and  scarlet.  Streaming  files 
of  wild  ducks  began  to  make  their  appearance  high  in  the  air ; 
the  bark  of  the  squirrel  might  be  heard  from  the  groves  of 
beech  and  hickor3*-nuts,  and  the  pensive  whistle  of  the  quail 
at  intervals  from  the  neighboring  stubble  field. 

The  small  birds  were  taking  their  farewell  banquets.  In  the 
fulness  of  their  revelry,  they  fluttered,  chirping  and  frolicking, 
from  bush  to  bush,  and  tree  to  tree,  capricious  from  the  very 
profusion  and  variety  around  them.  There  was  the  honest  cock- 
robin,  the  favorite  game  of  stripling  sportsmen,  with  its  loud 
querulous  note,  and  the  twittering  blackbirds  flying  in  sable 
clouds ;  and  the  golden  winged  woodpecker,  with  his  crimson 
crest,  his  broad  black  gorget,  and  splendid  plumage ;  and  the 
cedar-bird,  with  its  red-tipt  wings  and  yellow- tipt  tail,  and  its 
little  monteiro  cap  of  feathers ;  and  the  blue  jay,  that  noisy 
coxcomb,  in  his  gay  light  blue  coat  and  white  underclothes, 
screaming  and  chattering,  nodding,  and  bobbing,  and  bowing, 
and  pretending  to  be  on  good  terms  with  every  songster  of  the 
grove. 

As  Ichabod  jogged  slowly  on  his  way,  his  eye,  ever  open  to 
every  symptom  of  culinary  abundance,  ranged  with  delight 
over  the  treasures  of  jolly  autumn.  On  all  sides  he  beheld 
vast  store  of  apples,  some  hanging  in  oppressive  opulence  on 
the  trees ;  some  gathered  into  baskets  and  barrels  for  the 
market ;  others  heaped  up  in  rich  piles  for  the  cider-press. 
Farther  on  he  beheld  great  fields  of  Indian  corn,  with  its 
golden  ears  peeping  from  their  leafy  coverts,  and  holding  out 
the  promise  of  cakes  and  hasty-pudding ;  and  the  3'ellow 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  273 

pumpkins  lying  beneath  them,  turning  up  their  fair  round 
bellies  to  the  sun,  and  giving  ample  prospects  of  the  most 
luxurious  of  pies ;  and  anon  he  passed  the  fragrant  buckwheat 
fields,  breathing  the  odor  of  the  bee-hive,  and  as  he  beheld 
them,  soft  anticipations  stole  over  his  mind  of  dainty  slap- 
jacks, well  buttered,  and  garnished  with  honey  or  treacle,  by 
the  delicate  little  dimpled  hand  of  Katrina  Van  Tassel. 

Thus  feeding  his  mind  with  many  sweet  thoughts  and 
u  sugared  suppositions,"  he  journeyed  along  the  sides  of  a 
range  of  hills  which  look  out  upon  some  of  the  goodliest 
scenes  of  the  mighty  Hudson.  The  sun  gradually  wheeled 
his  broad  disk  down  into  the  west.  The  wide  bosom  of  the 
Tappaii  Zee  lay  motionless  and  glassy,  excepting  that  here 
and  there  a  gentle  undulation  waved  and  prolonged  the  blue 
shadow  of  the  distant  mountain.  A  few  amber  clouds  floated 
in  the  sky,  without  a  breath  of  air  to  move  them.  The  horizon 
was, of  a  fine  golden  tint,  changing  gradually  into  a  pure  apple 
green,  and  from  that  into  the  deep  blue  of  the  mid-heaven.  A 
slanting  ray  lingered  on  the  woody  crests  of  the  precipices  that 
overhung  some  parts  of  the  river,  giving  greater  depth  to  the 
dark  gray  and  purple  of  their  rocky  sides.  A  sloop  was 
loitering  in  the  distance,  dropping  slowly  down  with  the  tide, 
her  sail  hanging  uselessly  against  the  mast ;  and  as  the  reflec- 
tion of  the  sky  gleamed  along  the  still  water,  it  seemed  as  if 
the  vessel  was  suspended  in  the  air. 

It  was  toward  evening  that  Ichabod  arrived  at  the  castle  of 
the  Heer  Van  Tassel,  which  he  found  thronged  with  the  pride 
and  flower  of  the  adjacent  country.  Old  farmers,  a  spare 
leathern-faced  race,  in  homespun  coats  and  breeches,  blue 
stockings,  huge  shoes,  and  magnificent  pewter  buckles.  Their 
brisk,  withered  little  dames,  in  close  crimped  caps,  long- 
waisted  short  gowns,  homespun  petticoats,  with  scissors  and 
pin-cushions,  and  gay  calico  pockets  hanging  on  the  outside. 
Buxom  lasses,  almost  as  antiquated  as  their  mothers,  except- 
ing where  a  straw  hat,  a  fine  ribbon,  or  perhaps  a  white  frock, 
gave  symptoms  of  city  innovation.  The  sons,  in  short  square- 
skirted  coats,  with  rows  of  stupendous  brass  buttons,  and  their 
hair  generally  queued  in  the  fashion  of  the  times,  especially 
if  they  could  procure  an  eelskin  for  the  purpose,  it  being 
esteemed  throughout  the  country,  as  a  potent  nourisher  and 
strengthener  of  the  hair. 

Brom  Bones,  however,  was  the  hero  of  the  scene,  having 
come  to  the  gathering  on  his  favorite  steed  Daredevil,  a 
creature,  like  himself,  full  of  mettle  and  mischief,  and  which 


274  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

no  one  but  himself  could  manage.  He  was,  in  fact,  noted  for 
preferring  vicious  animals,  given  to  all  kinds  of  tricks  which 
kept  the  rider  in  constant  risk  of  his  neck,  for  he  held  a  tract- 
able well-broken  horse  as  unworthy  of  a  lad  of  spirit. 

Fain  would  I  pause  to  dwell  upon  the  world  of  charms  that 
burst  upon  the  enraptured,  gaze  of  my  hero,  as  he  entered  the 
state  parlor  of  Van  Tassel's  mansion.  Not  those  of  the  bevy 
of  buxom  lasses,  with  their  luxurious  display  of  red  and  white  ; 
but  the  ample  charms  of  a  genuine  Dutch  country  tea-table,  in 
the  sumptuous  time  of  autumn.  Such  heaped-up  platters  of 
cakes  of  various  and  almost  indescribable  kinds,  known  only 
to  experienced  Dutch  housewives!  There  was  the  doughty 
dough-nut,  the  tenderer  oly-koek,  and  the  crisp  and  crumbling 
cruller ;  sweet  cakes  and  short  cakes,  ginger  cakes  and  honey 
cakes,  and  the  whole  family  of  cakes.  And  then  there  were 
apple  pies,  and  peach  pies,  and  pumpkin  pies ;  besides  slices 
of  ham  and  smoked  beef ;  and  moreover  delectable  dishes  of 
preserved  plums,  and  peaches,  and  pears,  and  quinces  ;  not  to 
mention  broiled  shad  and  roasted  chickens  ;  together  with  bowls 
of  milk  and  cream,  all  mingled  higgledy-piggledy,  pretty  much 
as  I  have  enumerated  them,  with  the  motherly  tea-pot  sending 
up  its  clouds  of  vapor  from  the  midst  — -  Heaven  bless  the 
mark  !  I  want  breath  and  time  to  discuss  this  banquet  as  it 
deserves,  and  am  too  eager  to  get  on  with  my  story.  Happily, 
Ichabod  Crane  was  not  in  so  great  a  hurry  as  his  historian,  but 
did  ample  justice  to  every  dainty. 

He  was  a  kind  and  thankful  creature,  whose  heart  dilated 
in  proportion  as  his  skin  was  filled  with  good  cheer,  and  whose 
spirits  rose  with  eating,  as  some  men's  do  with  drink.  He 
could  not  help,  too,  rolling  his  large  eyes  round  him  as  he  ate, 
and  chuckling  with  the  possibility  that  he  might  one  day  be 
lord  of  all  this  scene  of  almost  unimaginable  luxury  and  splen- 
dor. Then,  he  thought,  how  soon  he'd  turn  his  back  upon  the 
old  school-house  ;  snap  his  fingers  in  the  face  of  Hans  Van 
Ripper,  and  every  other  niggardly  patron,  and  kick  any  itin- 
erant pedagogue  out  of  doors  that  should  dare  to  call  him 
comrade ! 

Old  Baltus  Van  Tassel  moved  about  among  his  guests  with  a 
face  dilated  with  content  and  good-humor,  round  and  jolly  as 
the  harvest  moon.  His  hospitable  attentions  were  brief,  but 
expressive,  being  confined  to  a  shake  of  the  hand,  a  slap  on 
the  shoulder,  aloud  laugh,  and  a  pressing  invitation  to  "fall 
to,  and  help  themselves." 

And  now  the  sound  of  the  music  from  the  common  room,  or 


THE  LEGEND  OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  275 

hall,  summoned  to  the  dance.  The  musician  was  an  old  gray- 
headed  negro,  who  had  been  the  itinerant  orchestra  of  the 
neighborhood  for  more  than  half  a  century.  His  instrument 
was  as  old  and  battered  as  himself.  The  greater  part  of  the 
time  he  scraped  on  two  or  three  strings,  accompanying  every 
movement  of  the  bow  with  a  motion  of  the  head ;  bowing  almost 
to  the  ground,  and  stamping  with  his  foot  whenever  a  fresh 
couple  were  to  start. 

Ichabod  prided  himself  upon  his  dancing  as  much  as  upon 
his  vocal  powers.  Not  a  limb,  not  a  fibre  about  him  was  idle  ; 
and  to  have  seen  his  loosely  hung  frame  in  full  motion,  and 
clattering  about  the  room,  you  would  have  thought  St.  Vitus 
himself,  that  blessed  patron  of  the  dance,  was  figuring  before 
you  in  person.  He  was  the  admiration  of  all  the  negroes  ;  who, 
having  gathered,  of  all  ages  and  sizes,  from  the  farm  and  the 
neighborhood,  stood  forming  a  pyramid  of  shining  black  faces 
at  every  door  and  window ;  gazing  with  delight  at  the  scene ; 
rolling  their  white  eye-balls,  and  showing  grinning  rows  of 
ivory  from  ear  to  ear.  How  could  the  flogger  of  urchins  be 
otherwise  than  animated  and  joyous?  the  lady  of  his  heart 
was  his  partner  in  the  dance,  and  smiling  graciously  in  reply 
to  all  his  amorous  oglings ;  while  Brom  Bones,  sorely  smitten 
with  love  and  jealousy,  sat  brooding  by  himself  in  one  corner. 

When  the  dance  was  at  an  end,  Ichabod  was  attracted  to  a 
knot  of  the  sager  folks,  who,  with  Old  Van  Tassel,  sat  smoking 
at  one  end  of  the  piazza,  gossiping  over  former  times,  and 
drawling  out  long  stories  about  the  war. 

This  neighborhood,  at  the  time  of  which  I  am  speaking,  was 
one  of  those  highly  favored  places  which  abound  with  chroni- 
cle and  great  men.  The  British  and  American  line  had  run 
near  it  during  the  war;  it  had,  therefore,  been  the  scene  of 
marauding,  and  infested  with  refugees,  cow-boys,  and  all  kinds 
of  border  chivalry.  Just  sufficient  time  had  elapsed  to  enable 
each  story-teller  to  dress  up  his  tale  with  a  little  becoming  fic- 
tion, and,  in  the  indistinctness  of  his  recollection,  to  make  hire- 
self  the  hero  of  every  exploit. 

There  was  the  story  pf  Doffue  Martling,  a  large  blue-bearded 
Dutchman,  who  had  nearly  taken  a  British  frigate  with  an  old 
iron  nine-pounder  from  a  mud  breastwork,  only  that  his  gun 
burst  at  the  sixth  discharge.  And  there  was  an  old  gentleman 
who  shall  be  nameless,  being  too  rich  a  mynheer  to  be  lightly 
mentioned,  who,  in  the  battle  of  Whiteplains,  being  an  excel- 
lent master  of  defence,  parried  a  musket-ball  with  a  small- 
sword, insomuch  that  he  absolutely  felt  it  whiz  round  the  blade, 


276  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

and  glance  off  at  the  hilt ;  in  proof  of  which  he  was  ready  at 
any  time  to  show  the  sword,  with  the  hilt  a  little  bent.  There 
were  several  more  that  had  been  equally  great  in  the  field,  not 
one  of  whom  but  was  persuaded  that  he  had  a  considerable 
hand  in  bringing  the  war  to  a  happ3r  termination. 

But  all  these  were  nothing  to  the  tales  of  ghosts  and  appari- 
tions that  succeeded.  The  neighborhood  is  rich  in  legendary 
treasures  of  the  kind.  Local  tales  and  superstitions  thrive 
best  in  these  sheltered,  long-settled  retreats ;  but  are  trampled 
under  foot,  by  the  shifting  throng  that  forms  the  population 
of  most  of  our  country  places.  Besides,  there  is  no  encourage- 
ment for  ghosts  in  most  of  our  villages,  for  they  have  scarcely 
had  time  to  finish  their  first  nap.  and  turn  themselves  in  their 
graves,  before  their  surviving  friends  have  travelled  away  from 
the  neighborhood :  so  that  when  they  turn  out  at  night  to  walk 
their  rounds,  they  have  no  acquaintance  left  to  call  upon.  This 
is  perhaps  the  reason  why  we  so  seldom  hear  of  ghosts  except 
in  our  long-established  Dutch  communities. 

The  immediate  cause,  however,  of  the  prevalence  of  super- 
natural stones  in  these  parts,  was  doubtless  owing  to  the 
vicinity  of  Sleepy  Hollow.  There  was  a  contagion  in  the  very 
air  that  blew  from  that  haunted  region  ;  it  breathed  forth  an 
atmosphere  of  dreams  and  fancies  infecting  all  the  land.  Sev- 
eral of  the  Sleepy  Hollow  people  were  present  at  Van  Tassel's, 
and,  as  usual,  were  doling  out  their  wild  and  wonderful  legends. 
Many  dismal  tales  were  told  about  funeral  trains,  and  mourn- 
ing cries  and  wailings  heard  and  seen  about  the  great  tree 
where  the  unfortunate  Major  Andre"  was  taken,  and  which 
stood  in  the  neighborhood.  Some  mention  was  made  also  of 
the  woman  in  white,  that  haunted  the  dark  glen  at  Raven  Rock, 
and  was  often  heard  to  shriek  on  winter  nights  before  a  storm, 
having  perished  there  in  the  snow.  The  chief  part  of  the 
stories,  however,  turned  upon  the  favorite  spectre  of  Sleepy 
Hollow,  the  headless  horseman,  who  had  been  heard  several 
times  of  late,  patrolling  the  country ;  and  it  was  said,  tethered 
his  horse  nightly  among  the  graves  in  the  churchyard. 

The  sequestered  situation  of  this  church  seems  always  to 
have  made  it  a  favorite  haunt  of  troubled  spirits.  It  stands 
on  a  knoll,  surrounded  by  locust-trees  and  lofty  elms,  from 
among  which  its  decent,  whitewashed  walls  shine  modestly 
forth,  like  Christian  purity,  beaming  through  the  shades  of 
retirement.  A  gentle  slope  descends  from  it  to  a  silver  sheet 
of  water,  bordered  by  high  trees,  between  which,  peeps  may 
be  caught  at  the  blue  hills  of  the  Hudson.  To  look  upon  its 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  277 

grass-grown  yard,  where  the  sunbeams  seem  to  sleep  so  quietly, 
one  would  think  that  there  at  least  the  dead  might  rest  in 
peace.  On  one  side  of  the  church  extends  a  wide  woody  dell, 
along  which  raves  a  large  brook  among  broken  rocks  and 
trunks  of  fallen  trees.  Over  a  deep  black  part  of  the  stream, 
not  far  from  the  church,  was  formerly  thrown  a  wooden  bridge  ; 
the  road  that  led  to  it,  and  the  bridge  itself,  were  thickly 
shaded  by  overhanging  trees,  which  cast  a  gloom  about  it, 
even  in  the  daytime  ;  but  occasioned  a  fearful  darkness  at 
night.  This  was  one  of  the  favorite  haunts  of  the  headless 
"horseman,  and  the  place  where  he  was  most  frequently  encoun- 
tered. The  tale  was  told  of  old  Brouwer,  a  most  heretical 
disbeliever  in  ghosts,  how  he  met  the  horseman  returning  from 
his  foray  into  Sleepy  Hollow,  and  was  obliged  to  get  up  behind 
him  ;  how  they  galloped  over  bush  and  brake,  over  hill  and 
swamp,  until  they  reached  the  bridge ;  when  the  horseman 
suddenly  turned  into  a  skeleton,  threw  old  Brouwer  into  the 
brook,  and  sprang  away  over  the  tree-tops  with  a  clap  of 
thunder. 

This  story  was  immediately  matched  by  a  thrice  marvellous 
adventure  of  Brom  Bones,  who  made  light  of  the  galloping 
Hessian  as  an  arrant  jockey.  He  affirmed,  that  on  returning 
one  night  from  the  neighboring  village  of  Sing-Sing,  he  had 
been  overtaken  by  this  midnight  trooper ;  that  he  had  offered  to 
race  with  him  for  a  bowl  of  punch,  and  should  have  won  it 
too,  for  Daredevil  beat  the  goblin  horse  all  hollow,  but  just  as 
they  came  to  the  church  bridge,  the  Hessian  bolted,  and  van- 
ished in  a  flash  of  fire. 

All  these  tales,  told  in  that  drowsy  undertone  with  which 
men  talk  in  the  dark,  the  countenances  of  the  listeners  only 
now  and  then  receiving  a  casual  gleam  from  the  glare  of  a 
pipe,  sank  deep  in  the  mind  of  Ichabod.  He  repaid  them  in 
kind  with  large  extracts  from  his  invaluable  author,  Cotton 
Mather,  and  added  many  marvellous  events  that  had  taken 
place  in  his  native  State  of  Connecticut,  and  fearful  sights 
which  he  had  seen  in  his  nightly  walks  about  Sleepy  Hollow. 

The  revel  now  gradually  broke  up.  The  old  farmers  gathered 
together  their  families  in  their  wagons,  and  were  heard  for 
some  time  rattling  along  the  hollow  roads,  and  over  the  distant 
hills.  Some  of  the  damsels  mounted  on  pillions  behind  their 
favorite  swains,  and  their  light-hearted  laughter,  mingling  with 
the  clatter  of  hoofs,  echoed  along  the  silent  woodlands,  sound- 
ing fainter  and  fainter,  until  they  gradually  died  away  —  and 
the  late  scene  of  noise  and  frolic  was  all  silent  and  deserted. 


278  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

Ichabod  only  lingered  behind,  according  to  the  custom  of  coun- 
try lovers,  to  have  a  tete-a-tete  with  the  heiress ;  fully  con- 
vinced that  he  was  now  on  the  high  road  to  success.  What 
passed  at  this  interview  I  will  not  pretend  to  say,  for  in  fact  I 
do  not  know.  Something,  however,  I  fear  me,  must  have  gone 
wrong,  for  he  certainly  sallied  forth,  after  no  very  great  inter- 
val, with  an  air  quite  desolate  and  chopfallen  —  Oh,  these 
women  !  these  women  !  Could  that  girl  have  been  playing  off 
anjT  of  her  coquettish  tricks  ?  —  Was  her  encouragement  of  the 
poor  pedagogue  all  a  mere  sham  to  secure  her  conquest  of  his 
rival?  —  Heaven  only  knows,  not  I! — let  it  suffice  to  say, 
Ichabod  stole  forth  with  the  air  of  one  who  had  been  sacking  a 
hen-roost,  rather  than  a  fair  lady's  heart.  Without  looking  to 
the  right  or  left  to  notice  the  scene  of  rural  wealth,  on  which  he 
had  so  often  gloated,  he  went  straight  to  the  stable,  and  with 
several  hearty  cuffs  and  kicks,  roused  his  steed  most  uncour- 
teously  from  the  comfortable  quarters  in  which  he  was  soundly 
sleeping,  dreaming  of  mountains  of  corn  and  oats,  and  whole 
valleys  of  timothy  and  clover. 

It  was  the  very  witching  time  of  night  that  Ichabod,  heavy- 
hearted  and  crest-fallen,  pursued  his  travel  homewards,  along 
the  sides  of  the  lofty  hills  which  rise  above  Tarry  Town,  and 
which  he  had  traversed  so  cheerily  in  the  afternoon.  The  hour 
was  as  dismal  as  himself.  Far  below  him  the  Tappan  Zee 
spread  its  dusky  and  indistinct  waste  of  waters,  with  here  and 
there  the  tall  mast  of  a  sloop,  riding  quietly  at  anchor  under 
the  land.  In  the  dead  hush  of  midnight,  he  could  even  hear  the 
barking  of  the  watch-dog  from  the  opposite  shore  of  the  Hud- 
son ;  but  it  was  so  vague  and  faint  as  only  to  give  an  idea  of 
his  distance  from  this  faithful  companion  of  man.  Now  and 
then,  too,  the  long-drawn  crowing  of  a  cock,  accidentally 
awakened,  would  sound  far,  far  off,  from  some  farm-house, 
away  among  the  hills  —  but  it  was  like  a  dreaming  sound  in  his 
ear.  No  signs  of  life  occurred  near  him,  but  occasionally  the 
melancholy  chirp  of  a  cricket,  or  perhaps  the  guttural  twang  of 
a  bull-frog  from  a  neighboring  marsh,  as  if  sleeping  uncomfort- 
ably, and  turning  suddenly  in  his  bed. 

All  the  stories  of  ghosts  and  goblins  that  he  had  heard  in  the 
afternoon,  now  came  crowding  upon  his  recollection.  The 
night  grew  darker  and  darker ;  the  stars  seemed  to  sink  deeper 
in  the  sky,  and  driving  clouds  occasionally  hid  them  from 
his  sight.  He  had  never  felt  so  lonely  and  dismal.  He  was, 
moreover,  approaching  the  very  place  where  many  of  the 
scenes  of  the  ghost  stories  had  been  laid.  In  the  centre  of  the 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  279 

road  stood  an  enormous  tulip-tree,  which  towered  like  a  giant 
above  all  the  other  trees  of  the  neighborhood,  and  formed  a 
kind  of  landmark.  Its  limbs  were  gnarled  and  fantastic,  large 
enough  to  form  trunks  for  ordinary  trees,  twisting  down  almost 
to  the  earth,  and  rising  again  into  the  air.  It  was  connected 
with  the  tragical  story  of  the  unfortunate  Andre,  who  had  been 
taken  prisoner  hard  by ;  and  was  universally  known  by  the 
name  of  Major  Andrews  tree.  The  common  people  regarded 
it  with  a  mixture  of  respect  and  superstition,  partly  out  of 
sympathy  for  the  fate  of  its  ill-starred  namesake,  and  partly 
fa-om  the  tales  of  strange  sights,  and  doleful  lamentations,  told 
concerning  it. 

As  Ichabod  approached  this  fearful  tree,  he  began  to  whistle  ; 
he  thought  his  whistle  was  answered  :  it  was  but  a  blast  sweep- 
ing sharply  through  the  dry  branches.  As  he  approached  a 
little  nearer,  he  thought  he  saw  something  white,  hanging  in 
the  midst  of  the  tree ;  he  paused,  and  ceased  whistling ;  but 
on  looking  more  narrowly,  perceived  that  it  was  a  place  where 
the  tree  had  been  scathed  by  lightning,  and  the  white  wood 
laid  bare.  Suddenly  he  heard  a  groan  —  his  teeth  chattered, 
and  his  knees  smote  against  the  saddle  :  it  was  but  the  rubbing 
of  one  huge  bough  upon  another,  as  they  were  swayed  about 
by  the  breeze.  He  passed  the  tree  in  safety,  but  new  perils 
lay  before  him. 

About  two  hundred  yards  from  the  tree,  a  small  brook 
crossed  the  road,  and  ran  into  a  marshy  and  thickly- wooded 
glen,  known  by  the  name  of  Wiley's  Swamp.  A  few  rough 
logs,  laid  side  by  side,  served  for  a  bridge  over  this  stream. 
On  that  side  of  the  road  where  the  brook  entered  the  wood,  a 
group  of  oaks  and  chestnuts,  matted  thick  with  wild  grape- 
vines, threw  a  cavernous  gloom  over  it.  To  pass  this  bridge, 
was  the  severest  trial.  It  was  at  this  identical  spot  that  the 
unfortunate  Andre  was  captured,  and  under  the  covert  of 
those  chestnuts  and  vines  were  the  sturdy  yeomen  concealed 
who  surprised  him.  This  has  ever  since  been  considered  a 
haunted  stream,  and  fearful  are  the  feelings  of  a  schoolboy 
who  has  to  pass  it  alone  after  dark. 

As  he  approached  the  stream,  his  heart  began  to  thump  ;  he 
summoned  up,  however,  all  his  resolution,  gave  his  horse  half 
a  score  of  kicks  in  the  ribs  and  attempted  to  dash  briskly 
across  the  bridge  ;  but  instead  of  starting  forward,  the  perverse 
old  animal  made  a  lateral  movement,  and  ran  broadside  against 
the  fence.  Ichabod,  whose  fears  increased  with  the  delay, 
jerked  the  reins  on  the  other  side,  and  kicked  lustily  with 


280  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

the  contrary  foot :  it  was  all  in  vain  ;  his  steed  started,  it  is 
true,  but  it  was  only  to  plunge  to  the  opposite  side  of  the  road 
into  a  thicket  of  brambles  and  alder-bushes.  The  school- 
master now  bestowed  both  whip  and  heel  upon  the  starveling 
ribs  of  old  Gunpowder,  who  dashed  forwards,  snuffling  and 
snorting,  but  came  to  a  stand  just  by  the  bridge,  with  a  sud- 
denness that  had  nearly  sent  his  rider  sprawling  over  his  head. 
Just  at  this  moment  a  plashy  tramp  by  the  side  of  the  bridge 
caught  the  sensitive  ear  of  Ichabod.  In  the  dark  shadow  of 
the  grove,  on  the  margin  of  the  brook,  he  beheld  something 
huge,  misshapen,  black  and  towering.  It  stirred  not,  but 
seemed  gathered  up  in  the  gloom,  like  some  gigantic  monster 
ready  to  spring  upon  the  traveller. 

The  hair  of  the  affrighted  pedagogue  rose  upon  his  head  with 
terror.  What  was  to  be  done?  To  turn  and  fly  was  now  too 
late  ;  and  besides,  what  chance  was  there  of  escaping  ghost  or 
goblin,  if  such  it  was,  which  could  ride  upon  the  wings  of 
the  wind?  Summoning  up,  therefore,  a  show  of  courage,  he 
demanded  in  stammering  accents  —  "Who  are  you?"  He 
received  no  reply.  He  repeated  his  demand  in  a  still  more 
agitated  voice.  Still  there  was  no  answer.  Once  more  he 
cudgelled  the  sides  of  the  inflexible  Gunpowder,  and  shutting 
his  eyes,  broke  forth  with  involuntary  fervor  into  a  psalm  tune. 
Just  then  the  shadowy  object  of  alarm  put  itself  in  motion, 
and  with  a  scramble  and  a  bound,  stood  at  once  in  the  middle 
of  the  road.  Though  the  night  was  dark  and  dismal,  yet  the 
form  of  the  unknown  might  now  in  some  degree  be  ascertained. 
He  appeared  to  be  a  horseman  of  large  dimensions,  and 
mounted  on  a  black  horse  of  powerful  frame.  He  made  no 
offer  of  molestation  or  sociability,  but  kept  aloof  on  one  side  of 
the  road,  jogging  along  on  the  blind  side  of  old  Gunpowder, 
who  had  now  got  over  his  fright  and  waywardness. 

Ichabod,  who  had  no  relish  for  this  strange  midnight  com- 
panion, and  bethought  himself  of  the  adventure  of  Brom  Bones 
with  the  galloping  Hessian,  now  quickened  his  steed,  in  hopes 
of  leaving  him  behind.  The  stranger,  however,  quickened  his 
horse  to  an  equal  pace.  Ichabod  pulled  up,  and  fell  into  a 
walk,  thinking  to  lag  behind  —  the  other  did  the  same.  His 
heart  began  to  sink  within  him ;  he  endeavored  to  resume  his 
psalm  tune,  but  his  parched  tongue  clove  to  the  roof  of  his 
mouth,  and  he  could  not  utter  a  stave.  There  was  something 
in  the  moody  and  dogged  silence  of  this  pertinacious  compan- 
ion, that  was  mysterious  and  appalling.  It  was  soon  fearfully 
accounted  for.  On  mounting  a  rising  ground,  which  brought 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  281 

the  figure  of  his  fellow-traveller  in  relief  against  the  sky, 
gigantic  in  height,  and  muffled  in  a  cloak,  Ichabod  was  horror- 
struck,  on  perceiving  that  he  was  headless  !  but  his  horror  was 
still  more  increased,  on  observing  that  the  head,  which  should 
have  rested  on  his  shoulders,  was  carried  before  him  on  the 
pommel  of  his  saddle !  His  terror  rose  to  desperation  ;  he 
rained  a  shower  of  kicks  and  blows  upon  Gunpowder,  hoping, 
by  a  sudden  movement,  to  give  his  companion  the  slip  —  but 
the  spectre  started  full  jump  with  him.  Away,  then,  they 
dashed  through  thick  and  thin  ;  stones  flying  and  sparks  flash- 
ing at  every  bound.  Ichabod 's  flimsy  garments  fluttered  in  the 
air,  as  he  stretched  his  long  lank  body  away  over  his  horse's 
head,  in  the  eagerness  of  his  flight. 

They  had  now  reached  the  road  which  turns  off  to  Sleepy 
Hollow  ;  but  Gunpowder,  who  seemed  possessed  with  a  demon, 
instead  of  keeping  up  it,  made  an  opposite  turn,  and  plunged 
headlong  down  hill  to  the  left.  This  road  leads  through  a 
sandy  hollow,  shaded  by  trees  for  about  a  quarter  of  a  mile, 
where  it  crosses  the  bridge  famous  in  goblin  story ;  and  just 
beyond  swells  the  green  knoll  on  which  stands  the  white- 
washed church. 

As  yet  the  panic  of  the  steed  had  given  his  unskilful  rider 
an  apparent  advantage  in  the  chase ;  but  just  as  he  had  got 
half-way  through  the  hollow,  the  girths  of  the  saddle  gave 
way,  and  he  felt  it  slipping  from  under  him.  He  seized  it  by 
the  pommel,  and  endeavored  to  hold  it  firm,  but  in  vain ;  and 
had  just  time  to  save  himself  by  clasping  old  Gunpowder 
round  the  neck,  when  the  saddle  fell  to  the  earth,  and  he  heard 
it  trampled  under  foot  by  his  pursuer.  For  a  moment  the 
terror  of  Hans  Van  Ripper's  wrath  passed  across  his  mind  —  for 
it  was  his  Sunday  saddle ;  but  this  was  no  time  for  petty 
fears  :  the  goblin  was  hard  on  his  haunches  ;  and  (unskilful  rider 
that  he  was  !)  he  had  much  ado  to  maintain  his  seat ;  sometimes 
slipping  on  one  side,  sometimes  on  another,  and  sometimes 
jolted  on  the  high  ridge  of  his  horse's  back-bone,  with  a  vio- 
lence that  he  verily  feared  would  cleave  him  asunder. 

An  opening  in  the  trees  now  cheered  him  with  the  hopes  that 
the  church  bridge  was  at  hand.  The  wavering  reflection  of  a 
silver  star  in  the  bosom  of  the  brook  told  him  that  he  was  not 
mistaken.  He  saw  the  walls  of  trie  church  dimly  glaring 
under  the  trees  beyond.  He  recollected  the  place  where  Brom 
Bones'  ghostly  competitor  had  disappeared.  "  If  I  can  but  reach 
that  bridge,"  thought  Ichabod,  "I  am  safe."  Just  then  he 
heard  the  black  steed  panting  and  blowing  close  behind  him ; 


282  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

he  even  fancied  that  he  felt  his  hot  breath.  Another  convul- 
sive kick  in  the  ribs,  and  old  Gunpowder  sprang  upon  the 
bridge ;  he  thundered  over  the  resounding  planks ;  he  gained 
the  opposite  side,  and  now  Ichabod  cast  a  look  behind  to 
see  if  his  pursuer  should  vanish,  according  to  rule,  in  a  flash 
of  fire  and  brimstone.  Just  then  he  saw  the  goblin  rising  in 
his  stirrups,  and  in  the  very  act  of  hurling  his  head  at  him. 
Ichabod  endeavored  to  dodge  the  horrible  missile,  but  too 
late.  It  encountered  his  cranium  with  a  tremendous  crash 
—  he  was  tumbled  headlong  into  the  dust,  and  Gunpowder, 
the  black  steed,  and  the  goblin  rider,  passed  by  like  a  whirl- 
wind. 

The  next  morning  the  old  horse  was  found  without  his 
saddle,  and  witli  the  bridle  under  his  feet,  soberly  cropping  the 
grass  at  his  master's  gate.  Ichabod  did  not  make  his  appear- 
ance at  breakfast  —  dinner-hour  came,  but  no  Ichabod.  The 
boys  assembled  at  the  school-house,  and  strolled  idly  about  the 
banks  of  the  brook ;  but  no  schoolmaster.  Hans  Van  Ripper 
now  began  to  feel  some  uneasiness  about  the  fate  of  poor  Icha- 
bod, and  his  saddle.  An  inquiry  was  set  on  foot,  and  after 
diligent  investigation  they  came  upon  his  traces.  In  one  part 
of  the  road  leading  to  the  church,  was  found  the  saddle 
trampled  in  the  dirt ;  the  tracks  of  horses'  hoofs  deeply  dented 
in  the  road,  and  evidently  at  furious  speed,  were  traced  to  the 
bridge,  beyond  which,  on  the  bank  of  a  broad  part  of  the 
brook,  where  the  water. ran  deep  and  black,  was  found  the  hat 
of  the  unfortunate  Ichabod,  and  cFose  beside  it  a  shattered 
pumpkin. 

The  brook  was  searched,  but  the  body  of  the  schoolmaster 
was  not  to  be  discovered.  Hans  Van  Ripper,  as  executor  of 
his  estate,  examined  the  bundle  which  contained  all  his  worldly 
effects.  They  consisted  of  two  shirts  and  a  half ;  two  stocks 
for  the  neck  ;  a  pair  or  two  of  worsted  stockings  ;  an  old  pair 
of  corduroy  small-clothes ;  a  rusty  razor ;  a  book  of  psalm 
tunes  full  of  dog's  ears  ;  and  a  broken  pitch-pipe.  As  to  the 
books  and  furniture  of  the  school-house,  they  belonged  to  the 
community,  excepting  Cotton  Mather's  History  of  Witchcraft, 
a  New-England  Almanac,  and  a  book  of  dreams  and  fortune- 
telling  ;  in  which  last  was  a  sheet  of  foolscap  much  scribbled 
and  blotted,  in  several  fruitless  attempts  to  make  a  copy  of 
verses  in  honor  of  the  heiress  of  Van  Tassel.  These  magic 
books  and  the  poetic  scrawl  were  forthwith  consigned  to  the 
flames  by  Hans  Van  Ripper ;  who,  from  that  time  forward, 
determined  to  send  his  children  no  more  to  school ;  observing 


THE  LEGEND   OF  SLEEPY  HOLLOW.  283 

that  he  never  knew  any  good  come  of  this  same  reading  and 
writing.  Whatever  money  the  schoolmaster  possessed,  and 
he  had  received  his  quarter's  pay  but  a  day  or  two  before,  he 
must  have  had  about  his  person  at  the  time  of  his  disappear- 
ance. 

The  mysterious  event  caused  much  speculation  at  the  church 
on  the  following  Sunday.  Knots  of  gazers  and  gossips  were 
collected  in  the  churchyard,  at  the  bridge,  and  at  the  spot 
where  the  hat  and  pumpkin  had  been  found.  The  stories  of 
Brouwer,  of  Bones,  and  a  whole  budget  of  others,  were  called 
to  mind,  and  when  they  had  diligently  considered  them  all,  and 
compared  them  with  the  symptoms  of  the  present  case,  they 
shook  their  heads,  and  came  to  the  conclusion,  that  Ichabod 
had  been  carried  off  by  the  galloping  Hessian.  As  he  was  a 
bachelor,  and  in  nobody's  debt,  nobody  troubled  his  head 
any  more  about  him  ;  the  school  was  removed  to  a  different 
quarter  of  the  Hollow,  and  another  pedagogue  reigned  in  his 
stead. 

It  is  true,  an  old  farmer  who  had  been  down  to  New- York 
on  a  visit  several  years  after,  and  from  whom  this  account  of 
the  ghostly  adventure  was  received,  brought  home  the  intelli- 
gence that  Ichabod  Crane  was  still  alive ;  that  he  had  left  the 
neighborhood  partly  through  fear  of  the  goblin  and  Hans  Van 
Ripper,  and  partly  in  mortification  at  having  been  suddenly 
dismissed  by  the  heiress ;  that  he  had  changed  his  quarters  to 
a  distant  part  of  the  country  ;  had  kept  school  and  studied  law 
at  the  same  time  ;  had  been  admitted  to  the  bar  ;  turned  politi- 
cian ;  electioneered ;  written  for  the  newspapers ;  and  finally, 
had  been  made  a  Justice  of  the  Ten  Pound  Court.  Brom 
Bones,  too,  who,  shortly  after  his  rival's  disappearance,  con- 
ducted the  blooming  Katrina  in  triumph  to  the  altar,  was 
observed  to  look  exceedingly  knowing  whenever  the  story  of 
Ichabod  was  related,  and  always  burst  into  a  hearty  laugh  at 
the  mention  of  the  pumpkin  ;  which  led  some  to  suspect  that 
he  knew  more  about  the  matter  than  he  chose  to  tell. 

The  old  country  wives,  however,  who  are  the  best  judges  of 
these  matters,  maintain  to  this  day,  that  Ichabod  was  spirited 
away  by  supernatural  means ;  and  it  is  a  favorite  story  often 
told  about  the  neighborhood  round  the  winter  evening  fire. 
The  bridge  became  more  than  ever  an  object  of  superstitious 
awe  ;  and  that  may  be  the  reason  why  the  road  has  been  altered 
of  late  years,  so  as  to  approach  the  church  by  the  border  of 
the  mill-pond.  The  school-house,  being  deserted,  soon  fell  to 
decay,  and  was  reported  to  be  haunted  by  the  ghost  of  the 


284  THE   SKETCH   BOOK. 

unfortunate  pedagogue  ;  and  the  plough-boy,  loitering  home- 
ward of  a  still  summer  evening,  has  often  fancied  his  voice  at 
a  distance,  chanting  a  melancholy  psalm  tune  among  the  tran- 
quil solitudes  of  Sleepy  Hollow. 


POSTSCRIPT, 

FOUND   IN   THE   HANDWRITING    OF    MR.    KNICKERBOCKER 

THE  preceding  Tale  is  given,  almost  in  the  precise  words  in 
which  I  heard  it  related  at  a  Corporation  meeting  of  the  an- 
cient city  of  Manhattoes,1  at  which  were  present  many  of  its 
sagest  and  most  illustrious  burghers.  The  narrator  was  a 
pleasant,  shabby,  gentlemanly  old  fellow  in  pepper-and-salt 
clothes,  with  a  sadly  humorous  face ;  and  one  whom  I  strongly 
suspected  of  being  poor  —  he  made  such  efforts  to  be  entertain- 
ing. When  his  story  was  concluded  there  was  much  laughter 
and  approbation,  particularly  from  two  or  three  deputy  alder- 
men, who  had  been  asleep  the  greater  part  of  the  time.  There 
was,  however,  one  tall,  dry-looking  old  gentleman,  with  beetling 
eyebrows,  who  maintained  a  grave  and  rather  severe  face 
throughout ;  now  and  then  folding  his  arms,  inclining  his  head, 
and  looking  down  upon  the  floor,  as  if  turning  a  doubt  over  in 
his  mind.  He  was  one  of  your  wary  men,  who  never  laugh  but 
upon  good  grounds  —  when  they  have  reason  and  the  law  on 
their  side.  When  the  mirth  of  the  rest  of  the  company  had 
subsided,  and  silence  was  restored,  he  leaned  one  arm  on  the 
elbow  of  his  chair,  and  sticking  the  other  a-kimbo,  demanded, 
with  a  slight  but  exceedingly  sage  motion  of  the  head,  and 
contraction  of  the  brow,  what  was  the  moral  of  the  story, 
and  what  it  went  to  prove. 

The  story-teller,  who  was  just  putting  a  glass  of  wine  to  his 
lips,  as  a  refreshment  after  his  toils,  paused  for  a  moment, 
looked  at  his  inquirer  with  an  air  of  infinite  deference,  and 
lowering  the  glass  slowly  to  the  table,  observed  that  the  story 
was  intended  most  logically  to  prove  :  — 

"  That  there  is  no  situation  in  life  but  has  its  advantages 
and  pleasures  —  provided  we  will  but  take  a  joke  as  we  find  it : 

"  That,  therefore,  he  that  runs  races  with  goblin  troopers,  is 
likely  to  have  rough  riding  of  it : 

"  Ergo,  for  a  country  schoolmaster  to  be  refused  the  hand  of 

i  New-York. 


V ENVOY.  285 

a  Dutch  heiress,  is  a  certain  step  to  high  preferment  in  the 
state." 

The  cautious  old  gentleman  knit  his  brows  tenfold  closer  after 
this  explanation,  being  sorely  puzzled  by  the  ratiocination  of 
the  syllogism ;  while,  methought,  the  one  in  pepper-and-salt 
eyed  him  with  something  of  a  triumphant  leer.  At  length  he 
observed,  that  all  this  was  very  well,  but  still  he  thought  the 
story  a  little  on  the  extravagant  —  there  were  one  or  two  points 
on  which  he  had  his  doubts  : 

"  P^aith,  sir,"  replied  the  story-teller,  "as  to  that  matter,  I 
don't  believe  one-half  of  it  myself." 

D.  K. 


L'ENVOY. ' 

Go,  little  booke,  God  send  thee  good  passage, 
And  specially  let  this  be  thy  prayere, 
Unto  them  all  that  thee  will  read  or  hear, 
Where  thou  art  wrong,  after  their  help  to  call, 
Thee  to  correct,  in  any  part  or  all. 

—  CHAUCER'S  Belle  Dame  sans  Mercie. 

IN  concluding  a  second  volume  of  the  Sketch-Book,  the 
Author  cannot  but  express  his  deep  sense  of  the  indulgence 
with  which  his  first  has  been  received,  and  of  the  liberal  dis- 
position that  has  been  evinced  to  treat  him  with  kindness  as  a 
stranger.  Even  the  critics,  whatever  may  be  said  of  them  by 
others,  he  has  found  to  be  a  singularly  gentle  and  good-natured 
race ;  it  is  true  that  each  has  in  turn  objected  to  some  one  or 
two  articles,  and  that  these  individual  exceptions,  taken  in  the 
aggregate,  would  amount  almost  to  a  total  condemnation  of 
his  work ;  but  then  he  has  been  consoled  by  observing,  that 
what  one  has  particularly  censured,  another  has  as  particu- 
larly praised :  and  thus,  the  encomiums  being  set  off  against 
the  objections,  he  finds  his  work,  upon  the  whole,  commended 
far  beyond  its  deserts. 

He  is  aware  that  he  runs  a  risk  of  forfeiting  much  of  this 
kind  favor  by  not  following  the  counsel  that  has  been  liberally 
bestowed  upon  him  ;  for  where  abundance  of  valuable  advice 
is  given  gratis,  it  may  seem  a  man's  own  fault  if  he  should  go 
astray.  He  can  only  say,  in  his  vindication,  that  he  faithfully 
determined,  for  a  time,  to  govern  himself  in  his  second  volume 

1  Closing  the  second  volume  of  the  London  edition. 


286  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

by  the  opinions  passed  upon  his  first ;  but  he  was  soon  brought 
to  a  stand  by  the  contrariety  of  excellent  counsel.  One  kindly 
advised  him  to  avoid  the  ludicrous ;  another,  to  shun  the 
pathetic ;  a  third  assured  him  that  he  was  tolerable  at  descrip- 
tion, but  cautioned  him  to  leave  narrative  alone  ;  while  a  fourth 
declared  that  he  had  a  very  pretty  knack  at  turning  a  story, 
and  was  really  entertaining  when  in  a  pensive  mood,  but  was 
grievously  mistaken  if  he  imagined  himself  to  possess  a  spirit 
of  humor. 

Thus  perplexed  by  the  advice  of  his  friends,  who  each  in  turn 
closed  some  particular  path,  but  left  him  all  the  world  beside 
to  range  in,  he  found  that  to  follow  all  their  counsels  would,  in 
fact,  be  to  stand  still.  He  remained  for  a  time  sadly  embar- 
rassed ;  when,  all  at  once,  the  thought  struck  him  to  ramble  on 
as  he  had  begun  ;  that  his  work  being  miscellaneous,  and  writ- 
ten for  different  humors,  it  could  not  be  expected  that  any  one 
would  be  pleased  with  the  whole  ;  but  that  if  it  should  contain 
something  to  suit  each  reader,  his  end  would  be  completely 
answered.  Few  guests  sit  down  to  a  varied  table  with  an 
equal  appetite  for  every  dish.  One  has  an  elegant  horror  of  a 
roasted  pig ;  another  holds  a  curry  or  a  devil  in  utter  abomina- 
tion ;  a  third  cannot  tolerate  the  ancient  flavor  of  venison  and 
wild  fowl ;  and  a  fourth,  of  truly  masculine  stomach,  looks 
with  sovereign  contempt  on  those  knickknacks,  here  and  there 
dished  up  for  the  ladies.  Thus  each  article  is  condemned  in 
its  turn  ;  and  yet,  amidst  this  variety  of  appetites,  seldom  does 
a  dish  go  away  from  the  table  without  being  tasted  and  relished 
by  some  one  or  other  of  the  guests. 

With  these  considerations  he  ventures  to  serve  up  this  second 
volume  in  the  same  heterogeneous  way  with  his  first ;  simply 
requesting  the  reader,  if  he  should  find  here  and  there  some- 
thing to  please  him,  to  rest  assured  that  it  was  written  expressly 
for  intelligent  readers  like  himself,  but  entreating  him,  should 
he  find  any  thing  to  dislike,  to  tolerate  it,  as  one  of  those 
articles  which  the  Author  has  been  obliged  to  write  for  readers 
of  a  less  refined  taste. 

To  be  serious.  —  The  Author  is  conscious  of  the  numerous 
faults  and  imperfections  of  his  work  ;  and  well  aware  how  little 
he  is  disciplined  and  accomplished  in  the  arts  of  authorship. 
His  deficiencies  are  also  increased  by  a  diffidence  arising  from 
his  peculiar  situation.  He  finds  himself  writing  in  a  strange 
land,  and  appearing  before  a  public  which  he  has  been  accus- 
tomed, from  childhood,  to  regard  with  the  highest  feelings  of 
awe  and  reverence.  He  is  full  of  solicitude  to  deserve  their 


VENVOY.  287 

approbation,  yet  finds  that  very  solicitude  continually  embar- 
rassing his  powers,  and  depriving  Him  of  that  ease  and  confi- 
dence which  are  necessary  to  successful  exertion.  Still  the 
kindness  with  which  he  is  treated  encourages  him  to  go  on, 
hoping  that  in  ti:ne  he  may  acquire  a  steadier  footing ;  and 
thus  he  proceeds,  half-venturing,  half -shrinking,  surprised  at 
his  own  good  fortune,  and  wondering  at  his  own  temerity. 


A   SUNDAY  IN   LONDON.1 

IN  a  preceding  paper  I  have  spoken  of  an  English  Sunday  in 
the  country  and  its  tranquillizing  effect  upon  the  landscape  ; 
but  where  is  its  sacred  influence  more  strikingly  apparent 
than  i'n  the  very  heart  of  that  great  Babel,  London  ?  On  this 
sacred  day  the  gigantic  monster  is  charmed  into  repose.  The 
intolerable  din  and  struggle  of  the  week  are  at  an  end. 
The  shops  are  shut.  The  fires  of  forges  and  manufactories 
are  extinguished,  and  the  sun,  no  longer  obscured  by  murky 
clouds  of  smoke,  pours  down  a  sober  yellow  radiance  into  the 
quiet  streets.  The  few  pedestrians  we  meet,  instead  of  hurry- 
ing forward  with  anxious  countenances,  move  leisurely  along ; 
their  brows  are  smoothed  from  the  wrinkles  of  business  and 
care ;  they  have  put  on  their  Sunday  looks  and  Sunday  man- 
ners with  their  Sunday  clothes,  and  are  cleansed  in  mind  as 
well  as  in  person. 

And  now  the  melodious  clangor  of  bells  from  church-towers 
summons  their  several  flocks  to  the  fold.  Forth  issues  from 
his  mansion  the  family  of  the  decent  tradesman,  the  small 
children  in  the  advance ;  then  the  citizen  and  his  comely 
spouse,  followed  by  the  grown-up  daughters,  with  small 
morocco-bound  prayer-books  laid  in  the  folds  of  their  pocket- 
handkerchiefs.  The  house-maid  looks  after  them  from  the 
window,  admiring  the  finery  of  the  family,  and  receiving, 
perhaps,  a  nod  and  smile  from  her  young  mistresses,  at  whose 
toilet  she  has  assisted. 

Now  rumbles  along  the  carriage  of  some  magnate  of  the 
city,  peradventure  an  alderman  or  a  sheriff,  and  now  the  patter 
of  many  feet  announces  a  procession  of  charity  scholars  in 
uniforms  of  antique  cut,  and  each  with  a  prayer-book  under 
his  arm. 

1  Part  of  a  sketch  omitted  in  the  preceding  editions. 


288  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

The  ringing  of  bells  is  at  an  end ;  the  rumbling  of  carriages 
has  ceased ;  the  pattering  of  feet  is  heard  no  more ;  the  flocks 
are  folded  in  ancient  churches,  cramped  up  in  by-lanes  and 
corners  of  the  crowded  city,  where  the  vigilant  beadle  keeps 
watch,  like  the  shepherd's  dog,  round  the  threshold  of  the 
sanctuary.  For  a  time  everything  is  hushed,  but  soon  is  heard 
the  deep,  pervading  sound  of  the  organ,  rolling  and  vibrating 
through  the  empty  lanes  and  courts,  and  the  sweet  chanting  of 
the  choir,  making  them  resound  with  melody  and  praise. 
Never  have  I  been  more  sensible  of  the  sanctifying  effect  of 
church  music  than  when  I  have  heard  it  thus  poured  forth, 
like  a  river  of  joy,  through  the  inmost  recesses  of  this  great 
metropolis,  elevating  it,  as  it  were,  from  all  the  sordid  pollutions 
of  the  week,  and  bearing  the  poor  world-worn  soul  on  a  tide 
of  triumphant  harmony  to  heaven. 

The  morning  service  is  at  an  end.  The  streets  are  again 
alive  with  the  congregations  returning  to  their  homes,  but 
soon  again  relapse  into  silence.  Now  comes  on  the  Sunday 
dinner,  which  to  the  city  tradesman  is  a  meal  of  some  impor- 
tance. There  is  more  leisure  for  social  enjoyment  at  the 
board.  Members  of  the  family  can  now  gather  together  who 
are  separated  by  the  laborious  occupations  of  the  week.  A 
schoolboy  may  be  permitted  on  that  day  to  come  to  the 
paternal  home ;  an  old  friend  of  the  family  takes  his  accus- 
tomed Sunday  seat  at  the  board,  tells  over  his  well-known 
stories,  and  rejoices  young  and  old  with  his  well-known  jokes. 

On  Sunday  afternoon  the  city  pours  forth  its  legions  to 
breathe  the  fresh  air  and  enjoy  the  sunshine  of  the  parks  and 
rural  environs.  Satirists  may  say  what  they  please  about  the 
rural  enjoyments  of  a  London  citizen  on  Sunday,  but  to  me 
there  is  something  delightful  in  beholding  the  poor  prisoner 
of  the  crowded  and  dusty  city  enabled  thus  to  come  forth 
once  a  week  and  throw  himself  upon  the  green  bosom  of 
Nature.  He  is  like  a  child  restored  to  the  mother's  breast, 
and  they  who  first  spread  out  these  noble  parks  and  magnifi- 
cent pleasure-grounds  which  surround  this  huge  metropolis 
have  done  at  least  as  much  for  its  health  and  morality  as  if 
they  had  expended  the  amount  of  cost  in  Hospitals,  prisons, 
and  penitentiaries. 


LONDON  ANTIQUES.  289 


LONDON  ANTIQUES. 


I  do  walk 


Methinks  like  Guide  Vaux,  with  my  dark  lanthorn, 
Stealing  to  set  the  town  o'  fire;  i'  th'  country 
I  should  be  taken  for  William  o'  the  Wisp, 
Or  Robin  Goodfellow. 

FLETCHER. 

I  AM  somewhat  of  an  antiquity-hunter,  and  am  fond  of  ex- 
ploring London  in  quest  of  the  relics  of  old  times.  These 
are  principally  to  be  found  in  the  depths  of  the  city,  swal- 
lowed up  and  almost  lost  in  a  wilderness  of  brick  and  mortar, 
but  deriving  poetical  and  romantic  interest  from  the  common- 
place, prosaic  world  around  them.  I  was  struck  with  an  in- 
stance of  the  kind  in  the  course  of  a  recent  summer  ramble 
into  the  city ;  for  the  city  is  only  to  be  explored  to  advantage 
in  summer-time,  when  free  from  the  smoke  and  fog  and  rain 
and  mud  of  winter.  I  had  been  buffeting  for  some  time 
against  the  current  of  population  setting  through  Fleet  Street. 
The  warm  weather  had  unstrung  my  nerves  and  made  me 
sensitive  to  every  jar  and  jostle  and  discordant  sound.  The 
flesh  was  weary,  the  spirit  faint,  and  I  was  getting  out  of 
humor  with  the  bustling  busy  throng  through  which  I  had  to 
struggle,  when  in  a  fit  of  desperation  I  tore  my  way  through 
the  crowd,  plunged  into  a  by-lane,  and,  after  passing  through 
several  obscure  nooks  and  angles,  emerged  into  a  quaint  and 
quiet  court  with  a  grassplot  in  the  centre  overhung  by  elms, 
and  kept  perpetually  fresh  and  green  by  a  fountain  with  its 
sparkling  jet  of  water.  A  student  with  book  in  hand  was 
seated  on  a  stone  bench,  partly  reading,  partly  meditating  on 
the  movements  of  two  or  three  trim  nursery-maids  with  their 
infant  charges. 

I  was  like  an  Arab  who  had  suddenly  come  upon  an  oasis 
amid  the  panting  sterility  of  the  desert.  By  degrees  the 
quiet  and  coolness  of  the  place  soothed  my  nerves  and  re- 
freshed my  spirit.  I  pursued  my  walk,  and  came,  hard  by,  to 
a  very  ancient  chapel  with  a  low-browed  Saxon  portal  of 
massive  and  rich  architecture.  The  interior  was  circular  and 
lofty  and  lighted  from  above.  Around  were  monumental 
tombs  of  ancient  date  on  which  were  extended  the  marble 
effigies  of  warriors  in  armor.  Some  had  the  hands  devoutly 
crossed  upon  the  breast ;  others  grasped  the  pommel  of  the 
sword,  menacing  hostility  even  in  the  tomb,  while  the  crossed 


290  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

legs  of  several  indicated  soldiers  of  the  Faith  who  had  been 
on  crusades  to  the  Holy  Land. 

I  was,  in  fact,  in  the  chapel  of  the  Knights  Templars, 
strangely  situated  in  the  very  centre  of  sordid  traffic ;  and  I 
do  not  know  a  more  impressive  lesson  for  the  man  of  the 
world  than  thus  suddenly  to  turn  aside  from  the  highway  of 
busy  money-seeking  life,  and  sit  down  among  these  shadowy 
sepulchres,  where  all  is  twilight,  dust,  and  forgetfulness. 

In  a  subsequent  tour  of  observation  I  encountered  another 
of  these  relics  of  a  "  foregone  world  "  locked  up  in  the  heart 
of  the  city.  I  had  been  wandering  for  some  time  through 
dull  monotonous  streets,  destitute  of  anything  to  strike  the 
eye  or  excite  the  imagination,  when  I  beheld  before  me  a 
Gothic  gateway  of  mouldering  antiquity.  It  opened  into  a 
spacious  quadrangle  forming  the  courtyard  of  a  stately  Gothic 
pile,  the  portal  of  which  stood  invitingly  open. 

It  was  apparently  a  public  edifice,  and,  as  I  was  antiquity- 
hunting,  I  ventured  in,  though  with  dubious  steps.  Meeting 
no  one  either  to  oppose  or  rebuke  my  intrusion,  I  continued 
on  until  I  found  myself  in  a  great  hall  with  a  lofty  arched 
roof  and  oaken  gallery,  all  of  Gothic  architecture.  At  one 
end  of  the  hall  was  an  enormous  fireplace,  with  wooden  settles 
on  each  side ;  at  the  other  end  was  a  raised  platform,  or  dais, 
the  seat  of  state,  above  which  was  the  portrait  of  a  man  in 
antique  garb  with  a  long  robe,  a  ruff,  and  a  venerable  gray 
beard. 

The  whole  establishment  had  an  air  of  monastic  quiet  and 
seclusion,  and  what  gave  it  a  mysterious  charm  was,  that  I 
had  not  met  with  a  human  being  since  I  had  passed  the 
threshold. 

Encouraged  by  this  loneliness,  I  seated  myself  in  a  recess 
of  a  large  bow  window,  which  admitted  a  broad  flood  of  yel- 
low sunshine,  checkered  here  and  there  by  tints  from  panes 
of  colored  glass,  while  an  open  casement  let  in  the  soft  sum- 
mer air.  Here,  leaning  my  head  on  my  hand  and  my  arm  on 
an  old  oaken  table,  I  indulged  in  a  sort  of  reverie  about  what 
might  have  been  the  ancient  uses  of  this  edifice.  It  had  evi- 
dently been  of  monastic  origin ;  perhaps  one  of  those  colle- 
giate establishments  built  of  yore  for  the  promotion  of 
learning,  where  the  patient  monk,  in  the  ample  solitude  of  the 
cloister,  added  page  to  page  and  volume  to  volume,  emulating 
in  the  productions  of  his  brain  the  magnitude  of  the  pile  he 
inhabited. 

As  I  was  seated  in  this  musing  mood  a  small  panelled  door 


LONDON  ANTIQUES.  291 

in  an  arch  at  the  upper  end  of  the  hall  was  opened,  and  a 
number  of  gray-headed  old  men,  clad  in  long  black  cloaks, 
came  forth  one  by  one,  proceeding  in  that  manner  through  the 
hall,  without  uttering  a  word,  each  turning  a  pale  face  on  me 
as  he  passed,  and  disappearing  through  a  door  at  the  lower 
end. 

I  was  singularly  struck  with  their  appearance ;  their  black 
cloaks  and  antiquated  air  comported  with  the  style  of  this 
most  venerable  and  mysterious  pile.  It  was  as  if  the  ghosts 
of  the  departed  years,  about  which  I  had  been  musing,  were 
passing  in  review  before  me.  Pleasing  myself  with  such 
fancies,  I  set  out,  in  the  spirit  of  romance,  to  explore  what  I 
pictured  to  myself  a  realm  of  shadows  existing  in  the  very 
centre  of  substantial  realities. 

My  ramble  led  me  through  a  labyrinth  of  interior  courts 
and  corridors  and  dilapidated  cloisters,  for  the  main  edifice 
had  many  additions  and  dependencies,  built  at  various  times 
arid  in  various  styles.  In  one  open  space  a  number  of  boys, 
who  evidently  belonged  to  the  establishment,  were  at  their 
sports,  but  everywhere  I  observed  those  mysterious  old  gray 
men  in  black  mantles,  sometimes  sauntering  alone,  sometimes 
conversing  in  groups ;  they  appeared  to  be  the  pervading 
genii  of  the  place.  I  now  called  to,  mind  what  I  had  read  of 
certain  colleges  in  old  times,  where  judicial  astrology,  geo- 
mancy,  necromancy,  and  other  forbidden  and  magical  sciences 
were  taught.  Was  this  an  establishment  of  the  kind,  and 
were  these  black-cloaked  old  men  really  professors  of  the 
black  art  ? 

These  surmises  were  passing  through  my  mind  as  my  eye 
glanced  into  a  chamber  hung  round  with  all  kinds  of  strange 
and  uncouth  objects  —  implements  of  savage  warfare,  strange 
idols,  and  stuffed  alligators ;  bottled  serpents  and  monsters 
decorated  the  mantelpiece ;  while  on  the  high  tester  of  an  old- 
fashioned  bedstead  grinned  a  human  skull,  flanked  on  each 
side  by  a  dried  cat. 

I  approached  to  regard  more  narrowly  this  mystic  chamber, 
which  seemed  a  fitting  laboratory  for  a  necromancer,  when  I 
was  startled  at  beholding  a  human  countenance  staring  at  me 
from  a  dusky  corner.  It  was  that  of  a,,  small,  shrivelled  old 
man  with  thin  cheeks,  bright  eyes,  and  gray,  wiry,  projecting 
eyebrows.  I  at  first  doubted  whether  it  were  not  a  mummy 
curiously  preserved,  but  it  moved,  and  I  saw  that  it  was  alive. 
It  was  another  of  these  black-cloaked  old  men,  and,  as  I  re- 
garded his  quaint  physiognomy,  his  obsolete  garb,  and  the 


292  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

hideous  and  sinister  objects  by  which  he  was  surrounded,  I 
began  to  persuade  myself  that  I  had  come  upon  the  arch-mago 
who  ruled  over  this  magical  fraternity. 

Seeing  me  pausing  before  the  door,  he  rose  and  invited  me  to 
enter.  I  obeyed  with  singular  hardihood,  for  how  did  I  know 
whether  a  wave  of  his  wand  might  not  metamorphose  me  into 
some  strange  monster,  or  conjure  me  into  one  of  the  bottles 
on  his  mantelpiece  ?  He  proved,  however,  to  be  anything  but 
a  conjurer,  and  his  simple  garrulity  soon  dispelled  all  the 
magic  and  mystery  with  which  I  had  enveloped  this  anti- 
quated pile  and  its  no  less  antiquated  inhabitants. 

It  appeared  that  I  had  made  my  way  into  the  centre  of  an 
ancient  asylum  for  superannuated  tradesmen  and  decayed 
householders,  with  which  was  connected  a  school  for  a  limited 
number  of  boys.  It  was  founded  upwards  of  two  centuries 
since  on  an  old  monastic  establishment,  and  retained  somewhat 
of  the  conventual  air  and  character.  The  shadowy  line  of  old 
men  in  black  mantles  who  had  passed  before  me  in  the  hall, 
and  whom  I  had  elevated  into  magi,  turned  out  to  be  the  pen- 
sioners returning  from  morning  service  in  the  chapel. 

John  Hallum,  the  little  collector  of  curiosities  whom  I  had 
made  the  arch-magician,  had  been  for  six  years  a  resident  of 
the  place,  and  had  decorated  this  final  nestling-place  of  his  old 
age  with  relics  and  rarities  picked  up  in  the  course  of  his  life. 
According  to  his  own  account,  he  had  been  somewhat  of  a 
traveller,  having  been  once  in  France,  and  very  near  making  a 
visit  to  Holland.  He  regretted  not  having  visited  the  latter 
country,  "  as  then  he  might  have  said  he  had  been  there." 
He  was  evidently  a  traveller  of  the  simple  kind. 

He  was  aristocratical  too  in  his  notions,  keeping  aloof,  as  I 
found  from  the  ordinary  run  of  pensioners.  His  chief  associates 
were  a  blind  man  who  spoke  Latin  and  Greek,  of  both  which 
languages  Halluin  was  profoundly  ignorant,  and  a  broken- 
do  wri  gentleman  who  had  run  through  a  fortune  of  forty  thou- 
sand pounds  left  him  by  his  father,  and  ten  thousand  pounds, 
the  marriage  portion  of  his  wife.  Little  Hallum  seemed  to 
consider  it  an  indubitable  sign  of  gentle  blood  as  well  as  of 
lofty  spirit  to  be  able  to  squander  such  enormous  sums. 

P.  S.  The  picturesque  remnant  of  old  times  into  which  I 
have  thus  beguiled  tne  reader  is  what  is  called  the  Charter 
House,  originally  the  Chartreuse.  It  was  founded  in  1611,  on 
the  remains  of  an  ancient  convent,  by  Sir  Thomas  Sutton,  being 
one  of  those  noble  charities  set  on  foot  by  individual  munifi- 
cence, and  kept  up  with  the  quaintness  and  sanctity  of 


LONDON  ANTIQUES.  293 

ancient  times  amidst  the  modern  changes  and  innovations  of 
London.  Here  eighty  broken-down  men,  who  have  seen  better 
days,  are  provided  in  their  old  age  with  food,  clothing,  fuel, 
and  a  yearly  allowance  for  private  expenses.  They  dine  to- 
gether, as  did  the  monks  of  old,  in  the  hall  which  had  been 
the  refectory  of  the  original  convent.  Attached  to  the  estab- 
lishment is  a  school  for  forty-four  boys. 

Stow,  whose  work  I  have  consulted  on  the  subject,  speaking 
of  the  obligations  of  the  gray -headed  pensioners,  says,  "They 
are  not  to  intermeddle  with  any  business  touching  the  affairs 
of  the  hospital,  but  to  attend  only  to  the  service  of  God,  and 
take  thankfully  what  is  provided  for  them,  without  muttering, 
murmuring,  or  grudging.  None  to  wear  weapon,  long  hair, 
colored  boots,  spurs,  or  colored  shoes,  feathers  in  their  hats, 
or  any  ruffian-like  or  unseemly  apparel,  but  such  as  becomes 
hospital-men  to  wear."  "And  in  truth,"  adds  Stow,  "happy* 
are  they  that  are  so  taken  from  the  cares  and  sorrows  of  the 
world,  and  fixed  in  so  good  a  place  as  these  old  men  are ; 
having  nothing  to  care  for.  but  the  good  of  their  souls,  to  serve 
God,  and  to  live  in  brotherly  love." 


For  the  amusement  of  such  as  have  been  interested  by  the 
preceding  sketch,  taken  down  from  my  own  observation,  and 
who  may  wish  to  know  a  little  more  about  the  mysteries  of 
London,  I  subjoin  a  modicum  of  local  history  put  into  my 
hands  by  an  odd-looking  old  gentleman,  in  a  small  brown  wig 
and  a  snuff-colored  coat,  with  whom  I .  became  acquainted 
shortly  after  my  visit  to  the  Charter  House.  I  confess  I  was 
a  little  dubious  at  first  whether  it  was  not  one  of  those  apoc- 
ryphal tales  often  passed  off  upon  inquiring  travellers  like 
myself,  and  which  have  brought  our  general  character  for 
veracity  into  such  unmerited  reproach.  On  making  proper 
inquiries,  however,  I  have  received  the  most  satisfactory 
assurances  of  the  author's  probity,  and  indeed  have  been  told 
that  he  is  actually  engaged  in  a  full  and  particular  account  of 
the  very  interesting  region  in  which  he  resides,  of  which  the 
following  may  be  considered  merely  as  a  foretaste.1 


1  This  refers  to  the  article  entitled  "  Little  Britain."     See  page  182. 


APPENDIX. 


NOTE  1.- POSTSCRIPT  TO  RIP    VAN  WINKLE. 

following  are  travelling  notes  from  a  memorandum-book  of  Mr. 
Knickerbocker: 

The  Kaatsberg,  or  Catskjill  Mountains,  have  always  been  a  region  full 
of  fable.  The  Indians  considered  them  the  abode  of  spirits,  who  in- 
fluenced the  weather,  spreading  sunshine  or  clouds  over  the  landscape 
and  sending  good  or  bad  hunting  seasons.  They  were  ruled  by  an  old 
squaw  spirit,  said  to  be  their  mother.  She  dwelt  on  the  highest  peak  of 
the  Catskills,  and  had  charge  of  the  doors  of  day  and  night  to  open  and 
shut  them  at  the  proper  hour.  She  hung  up  the  new  moons  in  the  skies, 
and  cut  up  the  old  ones  into  stars.  In  times  of  drought,  if  properly  pro- 
pitiated, she  would  spin  light  summer  clouds  out  of  cobwebs  and  morning 
dew,  and  send  them  off  from  the  crest  of  the  mountain,  flake  after  flake, 
like  flakes  of  carded  cotton,  to- float  in  the  air;  until,  dissolved  by  the 
heat  of  the  sun,  they  would  fall  in  gentle  showers,  causing  the  grass  to 
spring,  the  fruits  to  ripen,  and  the  corn  to  grow  an  inch  an  hour.  If  dis- 
pleased, however,  she  would  brew  up  clouds  black  as  ink,  sitting  in  the 
midst  of  them  like  a  bottle-bellied  spider  in  the  midst  of  its  web;  and 
when  these  clouds  broke,  woe  betide  the  valleys! 

In  old  times,  say  the  Indian  traditions,  there  was  a  kind  of  Manitou  or 
spirit,  who  kept  about  the  wildest  recesses  of  the  Catskill  Mountains,  and 
took  a  mischievous  pleasure  in  wreaking  all  kinds  of  evils  and  vexations 
upon  the  red  men.  Sometimes  he  would  assume  ^the  form  of  a  bear,  a 
panther,  or  a  deer,  lead  the  bewildered  hunter  a  *  weary  chase  through 
tangled  forests  and  among  ragged  rocks,  and  then  spring  off  with  a  loud 
ho!  ho!  leaving  him  aghast  on  the  brink  of  a  beetling  precipice  or  raging 
torrent. 

The  favorite  abode  of  this  Manitou  is  still  shown.  It  is  a  great  rock  or 
cliff  on  the  loneliest  part  of  the  mountains,  and,  from  the  flowering  vines 
which  clamber  about  it  and  the  wild  flowers  which  abound  in  its  neigh- 
borhood, is  known  by  the  name  of  the  Garden  Rock.  Near  the  foot  of 
it  is  a  small  lake,  the  haunt  of  the  solitary  bittern,  with  water-snakes 
basking  in  the  sun  on  the  leaves  of  the  pond-lilies,  which  lie  on  the  sur- 
face. This  place  was  held  in  great  awe  by  the  Indians,  insomuch  that 
the  boldest  hunter  would  not  pursue  his  game  within  its  precincts.  Once 
upon  a  time,  however,  a  hunter  who  had  lost  his  way  penetrated  to  the 
Garden  Rock,  where  he  beheld  a  number  of  gourds  placed  in  the  crotches 
of  trees.  One  of  these  he  seized  and  made  off  with  it,  but  in  the  hurry 
of  his  retreat  he  let  it  fall  among  the  rocks,  when  a  great  stream  gushed 
forth,  which  washed  him  away  and  swept  him  down  precipices,  where  he 
was  dashed  to  pieces,  and  the  stream  made  its  way  to  the  Hudson,  and 
continues  to  flow  to  the  present  day,  being  the  identical  stream  known 
by  the  name  of  Kaaterskill. 

295 


296  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 


NOTE  2.  —  NOTES  CONCERNING    WESTMINSTER  ABBEY. 

Toward  the  end  of  the  sixth  century,  when  Britain,  under  the  domin- 
ion of  the  Saxons,  was  in  a  state  of  barbarism  and  idolatry,  Pope  Gregory 
the  Great,  struck  with  the  beauty  of  some  Anglo-Saxon  youths  exposed 
fdr  sale  in  the  market-place  at  Rome,  conceived  a  fancy  for  the  race,  and 
determined  to  send  missionaries  to  preach  the  gospel  among  these  comely 
but  benighted  islanders.  He  was  encouraged  to  this  by  learning  that 
Ethelbert,  king  of  Kent  and  the  most  potent  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  princes, 
had  married  Bertha,  a  Christian  princess,  only  daughter  of  the  king  of 
Paris,  and  that  she  was  allowed  by  stipulation  the  full  exercise  of  her 
religion. 

The  shrewd  pontiff  knew  the  influence  of  the  sex  in  matters  of  religious 
faith.  He  forthwith  despatched  Augustine,  a  Roman  monk,  with  forty 
associates,  to  the  court  of  Ethelbert  at  Canterbury,  to  effect  the  conver- 
sion of  the  king  and  to  obtain  through  him  a  foothold  in  the  island. 

Ethelbert  received  them  warily,  and  held  a  conference  in  the  open  air, 
being  distrustful  of  foreign  priestcraft  and  fearful  of  spells  and  magic. 
They  ultimately  succeeded  in  making  him  as  good  a  Christian  as  his  wife; 
the  conversion  of  the  king  of  course  produced  the  conversion  of  his  loyal 
subjects.  The  zeal  and  success  of  Augustine  were  rewarded  by  his  being 
made  archbishop  of  Canterbury,  and  being  endowed  with  authority  over 
all  the  British  churches. 

One  of  the  most  prominent  converts  was  Segebert  or  Sebert,  king  of  the 
East  Saxons,  a  nephew  of  Ethelbert.  He  reigned  at  London,  of  which 
Mellitus,  one  of  the  Roman  monks  who  had  come  over  with  Augustine, 
was  made  bishop. 

Sebert  in  605,  in  his  religious  zeal,  founded  a  monastery  by  the  river- 
side to  the  west  of  the  city,  on  the  ruins  of  a  temple  of  Apollo,  being,  in 
fact,  the  origin  of  the  present  pile  of  Westminster  Abbey.  Great  prepa- 
rations were  made  for  the  consecration  of  the  church,  which  was  to  be 
dedicated  to  St.  Peter.  On  the  morning  of  the  appointed  day  Mellitus, 
the  bishop,  proceeded  with  great  pomp  and  solemnity  to  perform  the 
ceremony.  On  approaching  the  edifice  he  was  met  by  a  fisherman,  who 
informed  him  that  it  was  needless  to  proceed,  as  the  ceremony  was  over. 
The  bishop  stared  with  surprise,  when  the  fisherman  went  on  to  relate 
that  the  night  before,  as  he  was  in  his  boat  on  the  Thames,  St.  Peter 
appeared  to  him,  and  told  him  that  he  intended  to  consecrate  the  church 
himself  that  very  night.  The  apostle  accordingly  went  into  the  church, 
which  suddenly  became  illuminated.  The  ceremony  was  performed  in 
sumptuous  style,  accompanied  by  strains  of  heavenly  music  and  clouds 
of  fragrant  incense.  After  this  the  apostle  came  into  the  boat  and 
ordered  the  fisherman  to  cast  his  net.  He  did  so,  and  had  a  miraculous 
draught  of  fishes,  one  of  which  he  was  commanded  to  present  to  the 
bishop,  and  to  signify  to  him  that  the  apostle  had  relieved  him  from  the 
necessity  of  consecrating  the  church. 

Mellitus  was  a  wary  man,  slow  of  belief,  and  required  confirmation  of 
the  fisherman's  tale.  He  opened  the  church  doors,  and  beheld  wax 
candles,  crosses,  holy  water,  oil  sprinkled  in  various  places,  and  various 
other  traces  of  a  grand  ceremonial.  If  he  had  still  any  lingering  doubts, 
they  were  completely  removed  on  the  fisherman's  producing  the  identical 
fish  which  he  had  been  ordered  by  the  apostle  to  present  to  him.  To 
resist  this  would  have  been  to  resist  ocular  demonstration.  The  good 
bishop  accordingly  was  convinced  that  the  church  had  actually  been  con- 


APPENDIX.  297 

secrated  by  St.  Peter  in  person;  so  he  reverently  abstained  from  proceed- 
ing further  in  the  business. 

The  foregoing  tradition  is  said  to  be  the  reason  why  King  Edward  the 
Confessor  chose  this  place  as  the  site  of  a  religious  house  which  he 
meant  to  endow.  He  pulled  down  the  old  church  and  built  another  in 
its  place  in  1045.  In  this  his  remains  were  deposited  in  a  magnificent 
shrine. 

The  sacred  edifice  again  underwent  modifications,  if  not  a  recon- 
struction, by  Henry  III.  in  1220,  and  began  to  assume  its  present 
appearance. 

Under  Henry  VIII.  it  lost  its  conventual  character,  that  monarch 
turning  the  monks  away  and  seizing  upon  the  revenues. 


RELICS  OF  EDWARD    THE   CONFESSOR. 

A  curious  narrative  was  printed  in  1688  by  one  of  the  choristers  of  the 
cathedral,  who  appears  to  have  been  the  Paul  Pry  of  the  sacred  edifice, 
giving  an  account  of  his  rummaging  among  the  bones  of  Edward  the 
Confessor,  after  they  had  quietly  reposed  in  .their  sepulchre  upwards  of 
six  hundred  years,  and  of  his  drawing  forth  the  crucifix  and  golden  chain 
of  the  deceased  monarch.  During  eighteen  years  that  he  had  officiated 
in  the  choir  it  had  been  a  common  tradition,  he  says,  among  his  brother- 
choristers  and  the  gray-headed  servants  of  the  abbey  that  the  body  of 
King  Edward  was  deposited  in  a  kind  of  chest  or  coffin  which  was  indis- 
tinctly seen  in  the  upper  part  of  the  shrine  erected  to  his  memory.  None 
of  the  abbey  gossips,  however,  had  ventured  upon  a  nearer  inspection 
until  the  worthy  narrator,  to  gratify  his  curiosity,  mounted  to  the  coffin 
by  the  aid  of  a  ladder,  and  found  it  to  be  made  of  wood,  apparently  very 
strong  and  firm,  being  secured  by  bands  of  iron. 

Subsequently,  in  1685,  on  taking  down  the  scaffolding  used  in  the  coro- 
nation of  James  II.,  the  coffin  was  found  to  be  broken,  a  hole  appearing 
in  the  lid,  probably  made  through  accident  by  the  workmen.  No  one 
ventured,  however,  to  meddle  with  the  sacred  depository  of  royal  dust 
until,  several  weeks  afterwards,  the  circumstance  came  to  the  knowledge 
of  the  aforesaid  chorister.  He  forthwith  repaired  to  the  abbey  in  com- 
pany with  two  friends  of  congenial  tastes,  who  were  desirous  of  inspect- 
ing the  tombs.  Procuring  a  ladder,  he  again  mounted  to  the  coffin,  and 
found,  as  had  been  represented,  a  hole  in  the  lia  about  six  inches  long 
and  four  inches  broad,  just  in  front  of  the  left  breast.  Thrusting  in  his 
hand  and  groping  among  the  bones,  he  drew  from  underneath  the 
shoulder  a  crucifix,  richly  adorned  and  enamelled,  affixed  to  a  gold  chain 
twenty-four  inches  long.  These  he  showed  to  his  inquisitive  friends, 
who  were  equally  surprised  with  himself. 

"  At  the  time,"  says  he,  "  when  I  took  the  cross  and  chain  out  of  the 
coffin  I  drew  the  head  to  the  hole  and  mewed  it,  being  very  sound  and 
firm,  with  the  upper  and  nether  jaws  whole  and  full  of  teeth,  and  a  list 
of  gold  above  an  inch  broad,  in  the  nature  of  a  coronet,  surrounding  the 
temples.  There  was  also  in  the  coffin  white  linen  and  gold-colored 
flowered  silk,  that  looked  indifferent  fresh;  but  the  least  stress  put  there- 
to showed  it  was  wellnigh  perished.  There  were  all  his  bones,  and  much 
dust  likewise,  which  I  left  as  I  found." 


298  THE  SKETCH-BOOK. 

It  is  difficult  to  conceive  a  more  grotesque  lesson  to  human  pride  than 
the  skull  of  Edward  the  Confessor  thus  irreverently  pulled  about  in  its 
coffin  by  a  prying  chorister,  and  brought  to  grin  face  to  face  with  him 
through  a  hole  in  the  lid. 

Having  satisfied  his  curiosity,  the  chorister  put  the  crucifix  and  chain 
back  again  into  the  coffin,  and  sought  the  dean  to  apprise  him  of  his  dis- 
covery. The  dean  not  being  accessible  at  the  time,  and  fearing  that  the 
"  holy  treasure  "  might  be  taken  away  by  other  hands,  he  got  a  brother- 
chorister  to  accompany  him  to  the  shrine  about  two  or  three  hours  after- 
wards, and  in  his  presence  again  drew  forth  the  relics.  These  he  after- 
wards delivered  on  his  knees  to  King  James.  The  king  subsequently  had 
the  old  coffin  enclosed  in  a  new  one  of  great  strength,  "  each  plank  being 
two  inches  thick  and  cramped  together  with  large  iron  wedges,  where  it 
now  remains  (1688)  as  a  testimony  of  his  pious  care,  that  no  abuse  might 
be  offered  to  the  sacred  ashes  therein  reposited." 

As  the  history  of  this  shrine  is  full  of  moral,  I  subjoin  a  description  of 
it  in  modern  times.  "The  solitary  and  forlorn  shrine,"  says  a  British 
writer,  "  now  stands  a  mere  skeleton  of  what  it  was.  A  few  faint  traces 
of  its  sparkling  decorations  inlaid  on  solid  mortar  catches  the  rays  of  the 
sun,  forever  set  on  its  splendor.  .  .  .  Only  two  of  the  spiral  pillars  remain. 
The  wooden  Ionic  top  is  much  broken  and  covered  with  dust.  The  mosaic 
is  picked  away  in  every  part  within  reach;  only  the  lozenges  of  about  a  foot 
square  and  five  circular  pieces  of  the  rich  marble  remain."  — MALCOLM, 
Lond.  rediv. 


INSCRIPTION  ON  A  MONUMENT  ALLUDED   TO  IN 
THE  SKETCH. 

Here  lyes  the  Loyal  Duke  of  Newcastle,  and  his  Dutchess  his  second 
wife,  by  whom  he  had  no  issue.  Her  name  was  Margaret  Lucas,  youngest 
sister  to  the  Lord  Lucas  of  Colchester,  a  noble  family;  for  all  the  brothers 
were  valiant,  and  all  the  sisters  virtuous.  This  Dutchess  was  a  wise, 
witty,  and  learned  lady,  which  her  many  Bookes  do  well  testify;  she  was 
a  most  virtuous  and  loving  and  careful  wife,  and  was  with  her  lord  all 
the  time  of  his  banishment  and  miseries,  and  when  he  came  home,  never 
parted  from  him  in  his  solitary  retirements. 


In  the  winter-time,  when  the  days  are  short,  the  service  in  the  after- 
noon is  performed  by  the  light  of  tapers.  The  effect  is  fine  of  the  choir 
partially  lighted  up,  while  the  main  body  of  the  cathedral  and  the  tran- 
septs are  in  profound  and  cavernous  darkness.  The  white  dresses  of  the 
choristers  gleam  amidst  the  deep  brown  of  the  oaken  slats  and  canopies; 
the  partial  illumination  makes  enormous  shadows  from  columns  and 
screens,  and,  darting  into  the  surrounding  gloom,  catches  here  and  there 
upon  a  sepulchral  decoration  or  monumental  effigy.  The  swelling  notes 
of  the  organ  accord  well  with  the  scene. 

When  the  service  is  over  the  dean  is  lighted  to  his  dwelling,  in  the  old 
conventual  part  of  the  pile,  by  the  boys  of  the  choir,  in  their  white  dresses, 
bearing  tapers,  and  the  procession  passes  through  the  abbey  and  along 


APPENDIX.  299 

shadowy  cloisters,  lighting  up  angles  and  arches  and  grim  sepulchral  mon- 
uments," and  leaving  all  behind  in  darkness. 


On  entering  the  cloisters  at  night  from  what  is  called  the  Dean's  Yard, 
the  eye,  ranging  through  a  dark  vaulted  passage,  catches  a  distant  view 
of  a  white  marble  figure  reclining  on  a  tomb,  on  which  a  strong  glare 
thrown  by  a  gas-light  has  quite  a  spectral  effect.  It  is  a  mural  monument 
of  one  of  the  Pultneys. 

The  cloisters  are  well  worth  visiting  by  moonlight  when  the  moon  is  in 
the  full. 


NOTE  3,  PAGE  181.  —  THE  CHRISTMAS  DINNER. 

At  the  time  of  the  first  publication  of  this  paper  the  picture  of  an  old- 
fashioned  Christmas  in  the  country  was  pronounced  by  some  as  out  of 
date.  The  author  had  afterwards  an  opportunity  of  witnessing  almost 
all  the  customs  above  described,  existing  in  unexpected  vigor  in  the  skirts 
of  Derbyshire  and  Yorkshire,  where  he  passed  the  Christmas  holidays. 
The  reader  will  find  some  notice  of  them  in  the  author's  account  of  his 
sojourn  at  Newstead  Abbey. 


NOTE  4,  PAGE  206.-  STRATFORD  ON  AVON. 

This  effigy  is  in  white  marble,  and  represents  the  Knight  in  complete 
armor.  Near  him  lies  the  effigy  of  his  wife,  and  on  her  tomb  is  the  fol- 
lowing inscription ;  which,  if  really  composed  by  her  husband,  places 
him  quite  above  the  intellectual  level  of  Master  Shallow  : 

Here  lyeth  the  Lady  Joyce  Lucy  wife  of  Sr  Thomas  Lucy  of  Charle- 
cot  in  ye  county  of  Warwick,  Knight,  Daughter  and  heir  of  Thomas 
Acton  of  Sutton  in  ye  county  of  Worcester  Esquire  who  departed  out 
of  this  wretched  world  to  her  heavenly  kingdom  ye  10  day  of  February 
in  ye  yeare  of  our  Lord  God  1595  and  of  her  age  60  and  three.  All  the  time 
of  her  lyfe  a  true  and  faythful  servant  of  her  good  God,  never  detected 
of  any  cryme  or  vice.  In  religion  most  sounde,  in  love  to  her  husband 
most  faythful  and  true.  In  friendship  most  constant;  to  what  in  trust 
was  committed  unto  her  most  secret.  In  wisdom  excelling.  In  govern- 
ing of  her  house,  bringing  up  of  youth  in  ye  fear  of  God  that  did  con- 
verse with  her  moste  rare  and  singular.  A  great  maintayner  of  hospi- 
tality. Greatly  esteemed  of  her  betters ;  misliked  of  none  unless  of  the 
envyous.  When  all  is  spoken  that  can  be  saide  a  woman  so  garnished 
with  virtue  as  not  to  be  bettered  and  hardly  to  be  equalled  by  any. 
As  shee  lived  most  virtuously  so  shee  died  most  Godly.  Set  downe  by 
him  yt  best  did  knowe  what  hath  byn  written,  to  be  true. 

Thomas  Lucye. 


THE 


CRAYON    PAPERS. 


BY 


WASHINGTON    IRVING. 


NEW  YORK:  46  EAST  HTH  STKEET. 

THOMAS    Y.   CROWELL    &    COMPANY. 

BOSTON :  100  PURCHASE  STREET. 


THE   CRAYON   PAPERS. 


CONTENTS. 


PAGE 

MOUNT.IOY 3 

THE  GR'EAT  MISSISSIPPI  BUBBLE 38 

DON  JUAN 65 

BKOEK 73 

SKETCHES  IN  PARIS  IN  182» 78 

AMERICAN  RESEARCHES  IN  ITALY 96 

THE  TAKING  OP  THE  VEIL 100 

THE  EARLY  EXPERIENCES  OF  RALPH  RINGAVOOD 110 

THE  SEMINOLES 137 

THE  CONSPIRACY  OP  NEAMATHLA 142 

LETTER  FROM  GRANADA 148 

ABDERAHMAN 153 

THE  WIDOW'S  ORDEAL 171 

THE  CREOLE  VILLAGE .  181 

A  CONTENTED  MAN     ,                                                                       188 


THE   CEAYON  PAPERS. 

BY 

GEOFFEEY    CRAYON,    GENT. 


MOUNT  JOY : 

OR   SOME    PASSAGES    OUT    OP   THE    LIFE    OF    A    CASTLE-BUILDER. 

I  WAS  born  among  romantic  scenery,  in  one  of  the  wildest 
parts  of  the  Hudson,  which  at  that  time  was  not  so  thickly  set- 
tled as  at  present.  My  father  was  descended  from  one  of  the 
old  Huguenot  families,  that  came  over  to  this  country  on  the 
revocation  of  the  edict  of  Nantz.  He  lived  in  a  style  of  easy, 
rural  independence,  on  a  patrimonial  estate  that  had  been  for 
two  or  three  generations  in  the  family.  He  was  an  indolent, 
good-natured  man,  who  took  the  world  as  it  went,  and  had  a 
kind  of  laughing  philosophy,  that  parried  all  rubs  and  mishaps, 
and  served  him  in  the  place  of  wisdom.  This  was  the  part  of 
his  character  least  to  my  taste ;  for  I  was  of  an  enthusiastic, 
excitable  temperament,  prone  to  kindle  up  with  new  schemes 
and  projects,  and  he  was  apt  to  dash  my  sallying  enthusiasm  by 
some  unlucky  joke ;  so  that  whenever  I  was  in  a  glow  with  any 
sudden  excitement,  I  stood  in  mortal  dread  of  his  good-humor. 

Yet  he  indulged  me  in  every  vagary  ;  for  I  was  an  only  son, 
and  of  course  a  personage  of  importance  in  the  household.  I 
had  two  sisters  older  than  myself,  and  one  younger.  The  former 
were  educated  at  New  York,  under  the  eye  of  a  maiden  aunt ; 
the  latter  remained  at  home,  and  was  my  cherished  playmate, 
the  companion  of  my  thoughts.  We  were  two  imaginative  little 
beings,  of  quick  susceptibility,  and  prone  to  see  wonders  and 
mysteries  in  everything  around  us.  Scarce  had  we  learned  to 
read,  when  our  mother  made  us  holiday  presents  of  all  the 
nursery  literature  of  the  day ;  which  at  that  time  consisted  of 

3 


4  THE  CRAYON  PAPERS. 

little  books  covered  with  gilt  paper,  adorned  with  "  cuts,"  and 
filled  with  tales  of  fairies,  giants,  and  enchanters.  What 
draughts  of  delightful  fiction  did  we  then  inhale !  My  sister 
Sophy  was  of  a  soft  and  tender  nature.  She  would  weep  over 
the  woes  of  the  Children  in  the  Wood,  or  quake  at  the  dark 
romance  of  Blue-Beard,  and  the  terrible  mysteries  of  the  blue 
chamber.  But  I  was  all  for  enterprise  and  adventure.  I  burned 
to  emulate  the  deeds  of  that  heroic  .prince  who  delivered  the 
white  cat  from  her  enchantment ;  or  he  of  no  less  royal  blood> 
and  doughty  emprise,  who  broke  the  charmed  slumber  of  the 
Beauty  in  the  Wood ! 

The  house  in  which  we  lived  was  just  the  kind  of  place  to 
foster  such  propensities.  It  was  a  venerable  mansion,  half  villa, 
half  farmhouse.  The  oldest  part  was  of  stone,  with  loop-holes 
for  musketry,  having  served  as  a  family  fortress  in  the  time  of 
the  Indians.  To  this  there  had  been  made  various  additions, 
some  of  brick,  some  of  wood,  according  to  the  exigencies  of 
the  moment ;  so  that  it  was  full  of  nooks  and  crooks,  and  cham- 
bers of  all  sorts  and  sizes.  It  was  buried  among  willows,  elms, 
and  cherry  trees,  and  surrounded  with  roses  and  hollyhocks,  with 
honeysuckle  and  sweet-brier  clambering  about  every  window.  A 
brood  of  hereditary  pigeons  sunned  themselves  upon  the  roof ; 
hereditary  swallows  and  martins  built  about  the  eaves  and  chim- 
neys ;  and  hereditary  bees  hummed  about  the  flower-beds. 

Under  the  influence  of  our  story-books  every  object  around 
us  now  assumed  a  new  character,  and  a  charmed  interest.  The 
wild  flowers  were  no  longer  the  mere  ornaments  of  the  fields,  or 
the  resorts  of  the  toilful  bee ;  they  were  the  lurking  places  of 
fairies.  We  would  watch  the  humming-bird,  as  it  hovered 
around  the  trumpet  creeper  at  our  porch,  and  the  butterfly  as  it 
flitted  up  into  the  blue  air,  above  the  sunny  tree  tops,  and  fancy 
them  some  of  the  tiny  beings  from  fairyland.  I  would  call  to 
mind  all  that  I  had  read  of  Robin  Goodfellow  and  his  power  of 
transformation.  Oh,  how  I  envied  him  that  power !  How  I 
longed  to  be  able  to  compress  my  form  into  utter  littleness.;  to 
ride  the  bold  dragon-fly  ;  swing  on  the  tall  bearded  grass  ;  follow 
the  ant  into  his  subterraneous  habitation,  or  dive  into  the  caver- 
nous depths  of  the  honeysuckle  ! 

While  I  was  yet  a  mere  child  I  was  sent  to  a  daily  school, 
about  two  miles  distant.  The  schoolhouse  was  on  the  edge  of 
a  wood,  close  by  a  brook  overhung  with  birches,  alders,  and 
dwarf  willows.  We  of  the  school  who  lived  at  some  distance 
came  with  our  dinners  put  up  in  little  baskets.  In  the  intervals 
of  school  hours  we  would  gather  round  a  spring,  under  a  tuft 


MOUNT  JOY.  5 

of  hazel-bushes,  and  have  a  kind  of  picnic ;  interchanging  the 
rustic  dainties  with  which  our  provident  mothers  had  fitted  us 
out.  Then  when  our  joyous  repast  was  over,  and  my  compan- 
ions were  disposed  for  play,  I  would  draw  forth  one  of  my  cher- 
ished story-books,  stretch  myself  on  the  greensward,  and  soon 
lose  myself  in  its  bewitching  contents. 

I  became  an  oracle  among  my  schoolmates  on  account  of  my 
superior  erudition,  and  soon  imparted  to  them  the  contagion  of 
my  infected  fancy.  Often  in  the  evening,  after  school  hours, 
we  would  sit  on  the  trunk  of  some  fallen  tree  in  the  woods,  and 
vie  with  each  other  in  telling  extravagant  stories,  until  the  whip- 
poor-will  began  his  nightly  moaning,  and  the  fire-Hies  sparkled 
in  the  gloom.  Then  came  the  perilous  journey  homeward. 
What  delight  we  would  take  in  getting  up  wanton  panics  in  some 
dusky  part  of  the  wood  ;  scampering  like  frightened  deer  ;  paus- 
ing to  take  breath ;  renewing  the  panic,  and  scampering  off 
again,  wild  with  fictitious  terror ! 

Our  greatest  trial  was  to  pass  a  dark,  lonely  pool,  covered 
with  pond-lilies,  peopled  with  bull- frogs  and  water  snakes,  and 
haunted  by  two  white  cranes.  Oh !  the  terrors  of  that  pond ! 
How  our  little  hearts  would  beat  as  we  approached  it ;  what 
fearful  glances  we  would  throw  around !  And  if  by  chance  a 
plash  of  a  wild  duck,  or  the  guttural  twang  of  a  bull-frog, 
struck  our  ears,  as  we  stole  quietly  by  —  away  we  sped,  nor 
paused  until  completely  out  of  the  woods.  Then,  when  I  reached 
home,  what  a  world  of  adventures  and  imaginary  terrors  would 
I  have  to  relate  to  my  sister  Sophy  ! 

As  I  advanced  in  years,  this  turn  of  mind  increased  upon  me, 
and  became  more  confirmed.  I  abandoned  myself  to  the  im- 
pulses of  a  romantic  imagination,  which  controlled  my  studies, 
and  gave  a  bias  to  all  my  habits.  My  father  observed  me  con- 
tinually with  a  book  in  my  hand,  and  satisfied  himself  that  I 
was  a  profound  student ;  but  what  were  my  studies  ?  Works  of 
fiction  ;  tales  of  chivalry  ;  voyages  of  discovery  ;  travels  in  the 
East ;  everything,  in  short,  that  partook  of  adventure  and 
romance.  I  well  remember  with  what  zest  I  entered  upon  that 
part  of  my  studies  which  treated  of  the  heathen  mythology,  and 
particularly  of  the  sylvan  deities.  Then  indeed  my  school  books 
became  dear  to  me.  The  neighborhood  was  well  calculated  to 
foster  the  reveries  of  a  mind  like  mine.  It  abounded  with  soli- 
tary retreats,  wild  streams,  solemn  forests,  and  silent  valleys. 
I  would  ramble  about  for  a  whole  day  with  a  volume  of  Ovid's 
Metamorphoses  in  my  pocket,  and  work  myself  into  a  kind  of 
self-delusion,  so  as  to  identify  the  surrounding  scenes  with  those 


6  THE  CRAYON  PAPERS. 

of  which  I  had  just  been  reading.  I  would  loiter  about  a  brook 
that  glided  through  the  shadowy  depths  of  the  forest,  picturing 
it  to" myself  the  haunt  of  Naiads.  I  would  steal  round  some 
bushy  copse  that  opened  upon  a  glade,  as  if  I  expected  to  come 
suddenly  upon  Diana  and  her  nymphs,  or  to  behold  Pan  and  his 
satyrs  bounding,  with  whoop  and  halloo,  through  the  woodland. 
I  would  throw  myself,  during  the  panting  heats  of  a  summer 
noon,  under  the  shade  of  some  wide-spreading  tree,  and  muse 
and  dream  away  the  hours,  in  a  state  of  mental  intoxication.  I 
drank  in  the  very  light  of  day,  as  nectar,  and  my  soul  seemed 
to  bathe  with  ecstasy  in  the  deep  blue  of  a  summer  sky. 

In  these  wanderings,  nothing  occurred  to  jar  my  feelings,  or 
bring  me  back  to  the  realities  of  life.  There  is  a  repose  in  our 
mighty  forests  that  gives  full  scope  to  the  imagination.  Now 
and  then  I  would  hear  the  distant  sound  of  the  wood-cutter's 
axe,  or  the  crash  of  some  tree  which  he  had  laid  low  ;  but  these 
noises,  echoing  along  the  quiet  landscape,  could  easily  be  wrought 
by  fancy  into  harmony  with  its  illusions.  In  general,  however, 
the  woody  recesses  of  the  neighborhood  were  peculiarly  wild  and 
unfrequented.  I  could  ramble  for  a  whole  day,  without  coming 
upon  any  traces  of  cultivation.  The  partridge  of  the  wood 
scarcely  seemed  to  shun  my  path,  and  the  squirrel,  from  his  nut- 
tree,  would  gaze  at  me  for  an  instant,  with  sparkling  eye,  as  if 
wondering  at  the  unwonted  intrusion. 

I  cannot  help  dwelling  on  this  delicious  period  of  my  life ; 
when  as  yet  I  had  known  no  sorrow,  nor  experienced  any  world- 
ly care.  I  have  since  studied  much,  both  of  books  and  men, 
and  of  course  have  grown  too  wise  to  be  so  easily  pleased ;  yet 
with  all  my  wisdom,  I  must  confess  I  look  back  with  a  secret 
feeling  of  regret  to  the  days  of  happy  ignorance,  before  I  had 
begun  to  be  a  philosopher. 


It  must  be  evident  that  I  was  in  a  hopeful  training  for  one 
who  was  to  descend  into  the  arena  of  life,  and  wrestle  with  the 
world.  The  tutor,  also,  who  superintended  my  studies  in  the 
more  advanced  stage  of  my  education  was  just  fitted  to  complete 
the  fata  morgana  which  was  forming  in  my  mind.  His  name 
was  Glencoe.  He  was  a  pale,  melancholy-looking  man,  about 
forty  years  of  age  ;  a  native  of  Scotland,  liberally  educated, 
and  who  had  devoted  himself  to  the  instruction  of  youth  from 
taste  rather  than  necessity  ;  for,  as  he  said,  he  loved  the  human 
heart,  and  delighted  to  study  it  in  its  earlier  impulses.  My  two 
elder  sisters,  having  returned  home  from  a  city  boarding-school, 


MOUNT  JOT.  7 

were  likewise  placed  under  his  care,  to  direct  their  reading  in 
history  and  belles-lettres. 

We  all  soon  became  attached  to  Glencoe.  It  is  true,  we  were 
at  first  somewhat  prepossessed  against  him.  His  meagre,  pallid 
countenance,  his  broad  pronunciation,  his  inattention  to  the  little 
forms  of  society,  and  an  awkward  and  embarrassed  manner,  on 
first  acquaintance,  were  much  against  him  ;  but  we  soon  discov- 
ered that  under  this  unpromising  exterior  existed  the  kindest 
urbanity  of  temper ;  the  warmest  sympathies ;  the  most  enthu- 
siastic benev61ence.  His  mind  was  ingenious  and  acute.  His 
reading  had  been  various,  but  more  abstruse  than  profound  ;  his 
memory  was  stored,  on  all  subjects,  with  facts,  theories,  and 
quotations,  and  crowded  with  crude  materials  for  thinking. 
These,  in  a  moment  of  excitement,  would  be,  as  it  were,  melted 
down,  and  poured  forth  in  the  lava  of  a  heated  imagination.  At 
such  moments,  the  change  in  the  whole  man  was  wonderful.  His 
meagre  form  would  acquire  a  dignity  and  grace ;  his  long,  pale 
visage  wo'uld  flash  with  a  hectic  glow  ;  his  eyes  would  beam  with 
intense  speculation  ;  and  there  would  be  pathetic  tones  and  deep 
modulations  in  his  voice,  that  delighted  the  ear,  and  spoke  mov- 
ingly to  the  heart. 

But  what  most  endeared  him  to  us  was  the  kindness  and  sym- 
pathy with  which  he  entered  into  all  our  interests  and  wishes. 
Instead  of  curbing  and  checking  our  young  imaginations  with 
the  reins  of  sober  reason,  he  was  a  little  too  apt  to  catch  the 
impulse  and  be  hurried  away  with  us.  He  could  not  withstand 
the  excitement  of  any  sally  of  feeling  or  fancy,  and  was  prone 
to  lend  heightening  tints  to  the  illusive  coloring  of  youthful 
anticipations. 

Under  his  guidance  my  sisters  and  myself  soon  entered  upon 
a  more  extended  range  of  studies ;  but  while  they  wandered, 
with  delighted  minds,  through  the  wide  field  of  history  and 
belles-lettres,  a  nobler  walk  was  opened  to  my  superior  intel- 
lect. 

The  mind  of  Glencoe  presented  a  singular  mixture  of  philoso- 
phy and  poetry.  He  was  fond  of  metaphysics  and  prone  to 
indulge  in  abstract  speculations,  though  his  metaphysics  were 
somewhat  fine  spun  and  fanciful,  and  his  speculations  were  apt 
to  partake  of  what  my  father  most  irreverently  termed  "  hum- 
bug." For  my  part,  I  delighted  in  them,  and  the  more  espe- 
cially because  they  set  my  father  to  sleep  and  completely  con- 
founded my  sisters.  I  entered  with  my  accustomed  eagerness 
into  this  new  branch  of  study.  Metaphysics  were  now  my 
passion.  My  sisters  attempted  to  accompany  me,  but  they  soon 


8  THE  CRAYON  PAPERS. 

faltered,  and  gave  out  before  they  had  got  half  way  through 
Smith's  Theory  of  the  Moral  Sentiments.  I,  however,  went  on, 
exulting  in  my  strength.  Glencoe  supplied  me  with  books,  and 
I  devoured  them  with  appetite,  if  not  digestion.  We  walked 
and  talked  together  under  the  trees  before  the  house,  or  sat 
apart,  like  Milton's  angels,  and  held  high  converse  upon  themes 
beyond  the  grasp  of  ordinary  intellects.  Glencoe  possessed  a 
kind  of  philosophic  chivalry,  in  imitation  of  the  old  peripatetic 
sages,  and  was  continually  dreaming  of  romantic  enterprises  in 
morals,  and  splendid  systems  for  the  improvement  of  society. 
He  had  a  fanciful  mode  of  illustrating  abstract  subjects,  pecul- 
iarly to  my  taste ;  clothing  them  with  the  language  of  poetry, 
and  throwing  round  them  almost  the  magic  hues  of  fiction. 
"How  charming,"  thought  I,  "is  divine  philosophy;"  not 
harsh  and  crabbed,  as  dull  fools  suppose, 

"  But  a  perpetual  feast  of  nectar'd  sweets, 
Where  no  crude  surfeit  reigns." 

I  felt  a  wonderful  self-complacency  at  being  on  such  excel- 
lent terms  with  a  man  whom  I  considered  on  a  parallel  with  the 
sages  of  antiquity,  and  looked  down  with  a  sentiment  of  pity  on 
the  feebler  intellects  of  my  sisters,  who  could  comprehend  noth- 
ing of  metaphysics.  It  is  true,  when  I  attempted  to  study  them 
by  myself,  I  was  apt  to  get  in  a  fog ;  but  when  Glencoe  came 
to  my  aid,  every  thing  was  soon  as  clear  to  me  as  day.  My  ear 
drank  in  the  beauty  of  his  words  ;  my  imagination  was  dazzled 
with  the  splendor  of  his  illustrations.  It  caught  up  the  spar- 
kling sands  of  poetry  that  glittered  through  his  speculations,  and 
mistook  them  for  the  golden  ore  of  wisdom.  Struck  with  the 
facility  with  which  I  seemed  to  imbibe  and  relish  the  most 
abstract  doctrines,  I  conceived  a  still  higher  opinion  of  my 
mental  powers,  and  was  convinced  that  I  also  was  a  philosopher, 

I  was  now  verging  toward  man's  estate,  and  though  my  edu- 
cation had  been  extremely  irregular  —  following  the  caprices  of 
my  humor,  which  I  mistook  for  the  impulses  of  my  genius  — 
yet  I  was  regarded  with  wonder  and  delight  by  my  mother  and 
sisters,  who  considered  me  almost  as  wise  and  infallible  as  I 
consider  myself.  This  high  opinion  of  me  was  strengthened 
by  a  declamatory  habit,  which  made  me  an  oracle  and  orator  at 
the  domestic  board.  The  time  was  now  at  hand,  however,  that 
was  to  put  my  philosophy  to  the  test. 

We  had  passed  through  a  long  winter,  and  the  spring  at  length 
opened  upon  us  with  unusual  sweetness.  The  soft  serenity  of 


MOUNT  JOY.  9 

the  weather  ;  the  beauty  of  the  surrounding  country  ;  the  joyous 
notes  of  the  birds ;  the  balmy  breath  of  flower  and  blossom,  all 
combined  to  fill  my  bosom  with  indistinct  sensations,  and  name- 
less wishes.  Amid  the  soft  seductions  of  the  season,  I  lapsed 
into  a  state  of  utter  indolence,  both  of  body  and  mind. 

Philosophy  had  lost  its  charms  for  me.  Metaphysics  —  faugh ! 
I  tried  to  study ;  took  down  volume  after  volume,  ran  my  eye 
vacantly  over  a  few  pages,  and  threw  them  by  with  distaste.  I 
loitered  about  the  house,  with  my  hands  in  my  pockets,  and  an 
air  of  complete  vacancy.  Something  was  necessary  to  make  me 
happy  ;  but  what  was  that  something  ?  I  sauntered  to  the  apart- 
ments of  my  sisters,  hoping  their  conversation  might  amuse  me. 
They  had  walked  out,  and  the  room  was  vacant.  On  the  table 
lay  a  volume  which  they  had  been  reading.  It  was  a  novel.  I  had 
never  read  a  novel,  having  conceived  a  contempt  for  works  of 
the  kind,  from  hearing  them  universally  condemned.  It  is  true, 
I  had  remarked  they  were  universally  read ;  but  I  considered 
them  beneath  the  attention  of  a  philosopher,  and  never  would 
venture  to  read  them,  lest  I  should  lessen  my  mental  superi- 
ority in  the  eyes  of  my  sisters.  Nay,  I  had  taken  up  a 
work  of  the  kind  now  and  then,  when  I  knew  my  sisters  were 
observing  me,  looked  into  it  for  a  moment,  and  then  laid  it 
down,  with  a  slight  supercilious  smile.  On  the  present  occasion, 
out  of  mere  listlessness,  I  took  up  the  volume  and  turned  over 
a  few  of  the  first  pages.  I  thought  I  heard  some  one  coming, 
and  laid  it  down.  1  was  mistaken  ;  no  one  was  near,  and  what 
I  had  read,  tempted  my  curiosity  to  read  a  little  further.  I 
leaned  against  a  window-frame,  and  in  a  few  minutes  was  com- 
pletely lost  in  the  story.  How  long  I  stood  there  reading  I  know 
not,  but  I  believe  for  nearly  two  hours.  Suddenly  I  heard  my 
sisters  on  the  stairs,  when  I  thrust  the  book  into  my  bosom,  and 
the  two  other  volumes  which  lay  near  into  my  pockets,  and 
hurried  out  of  the  house  to  my  beloved  woods.  Here  I  remained 
all  day  beneath  the  trees,  bewildered,  bewitched,  devouring  the 
contents  of  these  delicious  volumes,  and  only  returned  to  the 
house  when  it  was  too  dark  to  peruse  their  pages. 

This  novel  finished,  I  replaced  it  in  my  sisters'  apartment,  and 
looked  for  others.  Their  stock  was  ample,  for  they  had  brought 
home  all  that  were  current  in  the  city  ;  but  my  appetite  demand- 
ed an  immense  supply.  All  this  course  of  reading  was  carried 
on  clandestinely,  for  I  was  a  little  ashamed  of  it,  and  fearful 
that  my  wisdom  might  be  called  in  question  ;  but  this  very  pri- 
vacy gave  it  additional  zest.  It  was  "  bread  eaten  in  secret ;  " 
it  had  the  charm  of  a  private  amour. 


10  THE  CRAYON  PAPERS. 

But  think  what  must  have  been  the  effect  of  such  a  course  of 
reading  on  a  youth  of  my  temperament  and  turn  of  mind  ;  in- 
dulged, too,  amid  romantic  scenery  and  in  the  romantic  season 
of  the  year.  It  seemed  as  if  I  had  entered  upon  a  new  scene 
of  existence.  A  train  of  combustible  feelings  were  lighted  up 
in  me,  and  my  soul  was  all  tenderness  and  passion.  Never  was 
youth  more  completely  love-sick,  though  as  yet  it  was  a  mere 
general  sentiment,  and  wanted  a  definite  object.  Unfortunately, 
our  neighborhood  was  particularly  deficient  in  female  society, 
and  I  languished  in  vain  for  some  divinity  to  whom  I  might  offer 
up  this  most  uneasy  burden  of  affections.  I  was  at  one  time 
seriously  enamoured  of  a  lady  whom  I  saw  occasionally  in  my 
rides,  reading  at  the  window  of  a  country-seat;  and  actually 
serenaded  her  with  my  flute  ;  when,  to  my  confusion,  I  discov- 
ered that  she  was  old  enough  to  be  my  mother.  It  was  a  sad 
damper  to  my  romance  ;  especially  as  my  father  heard  of  it,  and 
made  it  the  subject  of  one  of  those  household  jokes  which  he 
was  apt  to  serve  up  at  every  meal-time. 

I  soon  recovered  from  this  check,  however,  but  it  was  only  to 
relapse  into  a  state  of  amorous  excitement.  I  passed  whole 
days  in  the  fields,  and  along  the  brooks ;  for  there  is  something 
in  the  tender  passion  that  makes  us  alive  to  the  beauties  of 
nature.  A  soft  sunshiny  morning  infused  a  sort  of  rapture  into 
my  breast.  I  flung  open  my  arms,  like  the  Grecian  youth  in 
Ovid,  as  if  I  would  take  in  and  embrace  the  balmy  atmosphere.1 
The  song  of  the  birds  melted  me  to  tenderness.  I  would  lie  by 
the  side  of  some  rivulet  for  hours,  and  form  garlands  of  the 
flowers  on  its  banks,  and  muse  on  ideal  beauties,  and  sigh  from 
the  crowd  of  undefined  emotions  that  swelled  my  bosom. 

In  this  state  of  amorous  delirium,  I  was  strolling  one  morn- 
ing along  a  beautiful  wild  brook,  which  I  had  discovered  in  a 
glen.  There  was  one  place  where  a  small  waterfall,  leaping 
from  among  rocks  into  a  natural  basin,  made  a  scene  such  as  a 
poet  might  have  chosen  as  the  haunt  of  some  shy  Naiad.  It 
was  here  I  usually  retired  to  banquet  on  my  novels.  In  visiting 
the  place  this  morning  I  traced  distinctly,  on  the  margin  of  the 
basin,  which  was  of  fine  clear  sand,  the  prints  of  a  female  foot 
of  the  most  slender  and  delicate  proportions.  This  was  suffi- 
cient for  an  imagination  like  mine.  Robinson  Crusoe  himself, 
when  he  discovered  the  print  of  a  savage  foot  on  the  beach  of 
his  lonely  island,  could  not  have  been  more  suddenly  assailed 
with  thick-coming  fancies. 

1  Ovid's  Metamorphoses,  Book  VII. 


MOUNTJOT. 


11 


I  endeavored  to  track  the  steps,  but  they  only  passed  for  a 
few  paces  along  the  fine  sand,  and  then  were  lost  among  the 
herbage.  I  remained  gazing  in  revery  upon  this  passing  trace 
of  loveliness.  It  evidently  was  not  made  by  any  of  my  sisters, 
for  they  knew  nothing  of  this  haunt ;  beside,  the  foot  was 
smaller  than  theirs ;  it  was  remarkable  for  its  beautiful  deli- 
cacy. 

My  eye  accidentally  caught  two  or  three  half -withered  wild 
flowers  lying  on  the  ground.  The  unknown  nymph  had 
doubtless  dropped  them  from  her  bosom  !  Here  was  a  new 
document  of  taste  and  sentiment.  I  treasured  them  up  as 
invaluable  relics.  The  place,  too,  where  I  found  them,  was 
remarkably  picturesque,  and  the  most  beautiful  part  of  the 
brook.  It  was  overhung  with  a  fine  elm,  intwined  with  grape- 
vines. She  who  could  select  such  a  spot,  who  could  delight  in 
wild  brooks,  and  wild  flowers,  and  silent  solitudes,  must  have 
fancy,  and  feeling,  and  tenderness  ;  and  with  all  these  qualities, 
she  must  be  beautiful ! 

But  who  could  be  this  Unknown,  that  had  thus  passed  by,  as 
in  a  morning  dream,  leaving  merely  flowers  and  fairy  footsteps 
to  tell  of  her  loveliness  ?  There  was  a  mystery  in  it  that  be- 
wildered me.  It  was  so  vague  and  disembodied,  like  those 
"  airy  tongues  that  syllable  men's  names  "  in  solitude.  Every 
attempt  to  solve  the  mystery  was  vain.  I  could  hear  of  no 
being  in  the  neighborhood  to  whom  this  trace  could  be  ascribed. 
I  haunted  the  spot,  and  became  daily  more  and  more  enamoured. 
Never,  surely,  was  passion  more  pure  and  spiritual,  and  never 
lover  in  more  dubious  situation.  My  case  could  be  compared 
only  to  that  of  the  amorous  prince  in  the  fairy  tale  of  Cinder- 
ella ;  but  he  had  a  glass  slipper  on  which  to  lavish  his  tender- 
ness. I,  alas  !  was  in  love  with  a  footstep  ! 


The  imagination  is  alternately  a  cheat  and  a  dupe ;  nay, 
more,  it  is  the  most  subtle  of  cheats,  for  it  cheats  itself  and 
becomes  the  dupe  of  its  own  delusions.  It  conjures  up  "  airy 
nothings,"  gives  to  them  a  "  local  habitation  and  a  name,"  and 
then  bows  to  their  control  as  implicitly  as  though  they  were 
realities.  Such  was  now  my  case.  The  good  Numa  could  not 
more  thoroughly  have  persuaded  himself  that  the  nymph 
Egeria  hovered  about  her  sacred  fountain  and  communed  with 
him  in  spirit,  than  I  had  deceived  myself  into  a  kind  of  vision- 
ary intercourse  with  the  airy  phantom  fabricated  in  my  brain. 


12  THE   CRAYON   PAPERS. 

I  constructed  a  rustic  seat  at  the  foot  of  the  tree  where  I  had 
discovered  the  footsteps.  I  made  a  kind  of  bower  ther,e,  where 
I  used  to  pass  my  mornings  reading  poetry  and  romances.  I 
carved  hearts  and  darts  on  the  tree,  and  hung  it  with  garlands. 
My  heart  was  full  to  overflowing,  and  wanted  some  faithful 
bosom  into  which  it  might  relieve  itself.  What  is  a  lover 
without  a  confidante  ?  I  thought  at  once  of  my  sister  Sophy, 
my  early  playmate,  the  sister  of  my  affections.  She  was  so 
reasonable,  too,  and  of  such  correct  feelings,  always  listening 
to  my  words  as  oracular  sayings,  and  admiring  my  scraps  of 
poetry  as  the  very  inspirations  of  the  muse.  From  such  a  de- 
voted, such  a  rational  being,  what  secrets  could  I  have? 

I  accordingly  took  her  one  morning  to  my  favorite  retreat. 
She  looked  around,  with  delighted  surprise,  upon  the  rustic 
seat,  the  bower,  the  tree  carved  with  emblems  of  the  tender 
passion.  She  turned  her  eyes  upon  me  to  inquire  the  mean- 
ing. 

"  Oh,  Sophy,"  exclaimed  I,  clasping  both  her  hands  in  mine, 
and  looking  earnestly  in  her  face,  "  I  am  in  love." 

She  started  with  surprise. 

44  Sit  down,"  said  I,  44  and  I  will  tell  you  all." 

She  seated  herself  upon  the  rustic  bench,  and  I  went  into  a 
full  history  of  the  footstep,  with  all  the  associations  of  idea 
that  had  been  conjured  up  by  my  imagination. 

Sophy  was  enchanted  ;  it  was  like  a  fairy  tale  ;  she  had  read 
of  such  mysterious  visitations  in  books,  and  the  loves  thus  con- 
ceived were  always  for  beings  of  superior  order,  and  were 
always  happy.  She  caught  the  illusion  in  all  its  force ;  her 
cheek  glowed  ;  her  eye  brightened. 

44 1  dare  say  she's  pretty,"  said  Sophy. 

44  Pretty  !  "  echoed  I,  "  she  is  beautiful !  "  I  went  through 
all  the  reasoning  by  which  I  had  logically  proved  the  fact  to  my 
own  satisfaction.  I  dwelt  upon  the  evidences  of  her  taste,  her 
sensibility  to  the  beauties  of  nature  ;  her  soft  meditative  habit, 
that  delighted  in  solitude.  4'Oh,"  said  I,  clasping  my  hands, 
6 '  to  have  such  a  companion  to  wander  through  these  scenes ; 
to  sit  with  her  by  this  murmuring  stream  ;  to  wreathe  garlands 
round  her  brows  ;  to  hear  the  music  of  her  voice  mingling  with 
the  whisperings  of  these  groves  ;  —  " 

"Delightful!  delightful!"  cried  Sophy;  "what  a  swe'et 
creature  she  must  be  !  She  is  just  the  friend  I  want.  How 
I  shall  dote  upon  her !  Oh,  my  dear  brother !  you  must  not 
keep  her  all  to  yourself.  You  must  let  me  have  some  share  of 
her!" 


MOUNT  JOT.  13 

I  caught  her  to  my  bosom  :  "  You  shall  —  you  shall !  "  cried 
I,  "  my  dear  Sophy  ;  we  will  all  live  for  each  other  ! " 


The  conversation  with  Sophy  heightened  the  illusions  of  my 
mind  ;  and  the  manner  in  which  she  had  treated  my  day-dream 
identified  it  with  facts  and  persons  and  gave  it  still  more  the 
stamp  of  reality.  I  walked  about  as  one  in  a  trance,  heedless 
of  the  world  around,  and  lapped  in  an  elysium  of  the  fancy. 

In  this  mood  I  met  one  morning  with  Glencoe.  He  accosted 
me  with  his  usual  smile,  and  was  proceeding  with  some  general 
observations,  but  paused  and  fixed  on  me  an  inquiring  eye. 

"What  is  the  matter  with  you?"  said  he,  "you  seem  agi- 
tated ;  has  anything  in  particular  happened?  " 

"  Nothing,"  said  I,  hesitating  ;  "  at  least  nothing  worth  com- 
municating to  you." 

'"Nay,  my  dear  young  friend,"  said  he,  "whatever  is  of 
sufficient  importance  to  agitate  you  is  worthy  of  being  com- 
municated to  me." 

"Well;  but  my  thoughts  are  running  on  what  you  would 
think  a  frivolous  subject." 

"  No  subject  is  frivolous  that  has  the  power  to  awaken  strong 
feelings." 

"What  think  you,"  said  I,  hesitating,  "what  think  you  of 
love?" 

Glencoe  almost  started  at  the  question.  "Do  you  call  that 
a  frivolous  subject?"  replied  he.  "Believe  me,  there  is  none 
fraught  with  such  deep,  such  vital  interest.  If  you  talk, 
indeed,  of  the  capricious  inclination  awakened  by  the  mere 
charm  of  perishable  beauty,  I  grant  it  to  be  idle  in  the  extreme  ; 
but  that  love  which  springs  from  the  concordant  sympathies  of 
virtuous  hearts  ;  that  love  which  is  awakened  by  the  perception 
of  moral  excellence,  and  fed  by  meditation  on  intellectual  as 
well  as  personal  beauty ;  that  is  a  passion  which  refines  and  en- 
nobles the  human  heart.  Oh,  where  is  there  a  sight  more  nearly 
approaching  to  the  intercourse  of  angels,  than  that  of  two 
young  beings,  free  from  the  sins  and  follies  of  the  world,  min- 
gling pure  thoughts,  and  looks,  and  feelings,  and  becoming  as  it 
were  soul  of  one  soul  and  heart  of  one  heart !  How  exquisite 
the  silent  converse  that  they  hold  ;  the  soft  devotion  of  the  eye, 
that  needs  no  words  to  make  it  eloquent !  Yes,  my  friend,  if 
there  be  any  thing  in  this  weary  world  worthy  of  heaven,  it  is 
the  pure  bliss  of  such  a  mutual  affection  !  " 


14  THE  CRAYON  PAPERS. 

The  words  of  my  worthy  tutor  overcame  all  further  reserve. 
"  Mr.  Glencoe,"  cried  I,  blushing  still  deeper,  "I  am  in  love." 

"  And  is  that  what  you  were  ashamed  to  tell  me?  Oh,  never 
seek  to  conceal  from  your  friend  so  important  a  secret.  If  your 
passion  be  unworthy,  it  is  for  the  steady  hand  of  friendship 
to  pluck  it  forth  ;  if  honorable,  none  but  an  enemy  would  seek  to 
stifle  it.  On  nothing  does  the  character  and  happiness  so  much 
depend  as  on  the  first  affection  of  the  heart.  Were  you  caught 
by  some  fleeting  and  superficial  charm  —  a  bright  eye,  a  bloom- 
ing cheek,  a  soft  voice,  or  a  voluptuous  form  —  I  would  warn 
you  to  beware ;  I  would  tell  you  that  beauty  is  but  a  passing 
gleam  of  the  morning,  a  perishable  flower ;  that  accident  may 
becloud  and  blight  it,  and  that  at  best  it  must  soon  pass  away. 
But  were  you  in  love  with  such  a  one  as  I  could  describe  ;  young 
in  years,  but  still  younger  in  feelings  ;  lovely  in  person,  but  as 
a  type  of  the  mind's  beauty  ;  soft  in  voice,  in  token  of  gentle- 
ness of  spirit ;  blooming  in  countenance,  like  the  rosy  tints  of 
morning  kindling  with  the  promise  of  a  genial  day ;  an  eye 
beaming  with  the  benignity  of  a  happy  heart ;  a  cheerful  temper, 
alive  to  all  kind  impulses,  and  frankly  diffusing  its  own  felicity  ; 
a  self -poised  mind,  that  needs  not  lean  on  others  for  support ; 
an  elegant  taste,  that  can  embellish  solitude,  and  furnish  out  its 
own  enjoyments  —  ' ' 

"My  dear  sir,"  cried  I,  for  I  could  contain  myself  no 
longer,  "•  you  have  described  the  very  person  !  " 

"Why,  then,  my  dear  young  friend,"  said  he,  affectionately 
pressing  my  hand,  "  in  God's  name,  love  on  !  " 


For  the  remainder  of  the  day  I  was  in  some  such  state  of 
dreamy  beatitude  as  a  Turk  is  said  to  enjoy  when  under  the 
influence  of  opium.  It  must  be  already  manifest  how  prone  I 
was  to  bewilder  myself  with  picturings  of  the  fancy,  so  as  to 
confound  them  with  existing  realities.  In  the  present  instance, 
Sophy  and  Glencoe  had  contributed  to  promote  the  transient 
delusion.  Sophy,  dear  girl,  had  as  usual  joined  with  me  in  my 
castle-building,  and  indulged  in  the  same  train  of  imaginings, 
while  Glencoe,  duped  by  my  enthusiasm,  firmly  believed  that  I 
spoke  of  a  being  I  had  seen  and  known.  By  their  sympathy 
with  my  feelings  they  in  a  manner  became  associated  with  the 
Unknown  in  my  mind,  and  thus  linked  her  with  the  circle  of  my 
intimacy. 

In  the  evening,  our  family  party  was  assembled  in  the  hall,  to 


MOUNT  JOY.  15 

enjoy  the  refreshing  breeze.  Sophy  was  playing  some  favorite 
Scotch  airs  on  the  piano,  while  Glencoe,  seated  apart,  with  his 
forehead  resting  on  his  hand,  was  buried  in  one  of  those  pensive 
reveries  that  made  him  so  interesting  to  me. 

"  What  a  fortunate  being  I  am  !  "  thought  I,  "  blessed  with 
such  a  sister  and  such  a  friend  !  I  have  only  to  find  out  this 
amiable  Unknown,  to  wed  her,  and  be  happy  !  What  a  paradise 
will  be  my  home,  graced  with  a  partner  of  such  exquisite  refine- 
ment !  It  will  be  a  perfect  fairy  bower,  buried  among  sweets 
and  roses.  Sophy  shall  live  with  us,  and  be  the  companion  of 
all  our  enjoyments.  Glencoe,  too,  shall  no  more  be  the  solitary 
being  that  he  now  appears.  He  shall  have  a  home  with  us.  He 
shall  have  his  study,  where,  when  he  pleases,  he  may  shut  him- 
self up  from  the  world,  and  bury  himself  in  his  own  reflections. 
His  retreat  shall  be  sacred  ;  no  one  shall  intrude  there  ;  no  one 
but  myself,  who  will  visit  him  now  and  then,  in  his  seclusion, 
where  we  will  devise  grand  schemes  together  for  the  improve- 
ment of  mankind.  How  delightfully  our  days  will  pass,  in  a 
round  of  rational  pleasures  and  elegant  employments  !  Some- 
times we  will  have  music ;  sometimes  we  will  read  ;  sometimes 
we  will  wander  through  the  flower  garden,  when  I  will  smile  with 
complacency  on  every  flower  my  wife  has  planted  ;  while  in  the 
long  winter  evenings  the  ladies  will  sit  at  their  work,  and  listen 
with  hushed  attention  to  Glencoe  and  myself,  as  we  discuss  the 
abstruse  doctrines  of  metaphysics." 

From  this  delectable  revery,  I  was  startled  by  my  father's 
slapping  me  on  the  shoulder  :  "  What  possesses  the  lad  ?  "  cried 
he ;  "  here  have  I  been  speaking  to  you  half  a  dozen  tfmes,  with- 
out receiving  an  answer." 

"Pardon  me,  sir,"  replied  I;  "I  was  so  completely  lost  in 
thought,  that  I  did  not  hear  you." 

"Lost  in  thought!  And  pray  what  were  you  thinking  of? 
Some  of  your  philosophy,  I  suppose." 

"Upon  my  word,"  said  my  sister  Charlotte,  with  an  arch 
laugh,  "  I  suspect  Harry's  in  love  again." 

"And  if  I  were  in  love,  Charlotte,"  said  I,  somewhat  net- 
tled, and  recollecting  Glencoe's  enthusiastic  eulogy  of  the  pas- 
sion, "  if  I  were  in  love,  is  that  a  matter  of  jest  and  laughter? 
Is  the  tenderest  and  most  fervid  affection  that  can  animate  the 
human  breast,  to  be  made  a  matter  of  cold-hearted  ridicule?" 

My  sister  colored.  "Certainly  not,  brother  !  —  nor  did  I  mean 
to  make  it  so,  nor  to  pny  anything  that  should  wound  youi  feel- 
ings. Had  I  really  suspected  you  had  formed  some  genuine 
attachment,  it  would  have  been  sacred  in  my  eyes  ;  but  —  but," 


16  THE  CRAYON  PAPERS. 

said  she,  smiling,  as  if  at  some,  whimsical  recollection,  "  I  thought 
that  you  —  you  might  be  indulging  in  another  little  freak  of  the 
imagination." 

"I'll  wager  any  money,"  cried  my  father,  "  he  has  fallen  in 
love  again  with  some  old  lady  at  a  window  ! ' ' 

"  Oh  no  !  "  cried  my  dear  sister  Sophy,  with  the  most  gracious 
warmth  ;  "  she  is  young  and  beautiful." 

"From  what  I  understand,"  said  Glencoe,  rousing  himself, 
"  she  must  be  lovely  in  mind  as  in  person." 

I  found  my  friends  were  getting  me  into  a  fine  scrape.  I  began 
to  perspire  at  every  pore,  and  felt  my  ears  tingle. 

"Well,  but,"  cried  my  father,  "who  is  she?  —  what  is  she? 
Let  us  hear  something  about  her." 

This  was  no  time  to  explain  so  delicate  a  matter.  I  caught 
up  my  hat,  and  vanished  out  of  the  house. 

The  moment  I  was  in  the  open  air,  and  alone,  my  heart  up- 
braided me.  Was  this  respectful  treatment  to  my"  father  —  to 
such  a  father,  too  —  who  had  always  regarded  me  as  the  pride 
of  his  age  —  the  staff  of  his  hopes?  It  is  true,  he  was  apt  some- 
times to  laugh  at  my  enthusiastic  flights,  and  did  not  treat  my 
philosophy  with  due  respect ;  but  when  had  he  ever  thwarted  a 
wish  of  my  heart?  Was  I  then  to  act  with  reserve  toward  him, 
in  a  matter  which  might  affect  the  whole  current  of  my  future 
life?  "  I  have  done  wrong,"  thought  I ;  "  but  it  is  not  too  late 
to  remedy  it.  I  will  hasten  back  and  open  my  whole  heart  to 
my  father  ! ' ' 

I  returned  accordingly,  and  was  just  on  the  point  of  entering 
the  house/with  my  heart  full  of  filial  piety,  and  a  contrite  speech 
upon  my  lips,  when  I  heard  a  burst  of  obstreperous  laughter 
from  my  father,  and  a  loud  titter  from  my  two  elder  sisters. 

"  A  footstep  !  "  shouted  he,  as  soon  as  he  could  recover  him- 
self;  "in  love  with  a  footstep!  Why,  this  beats  the  old  lady 
at  the  window  !  "  And  then  there  was  another  appalling  burst 
of  laughter.  Had  it  been  a  clap  of  thunder,  it  could  hardly  have 
astounded  me  more  completely.  Sophy,  in  the  simplicity  of  her 
heart,  had  told  all,  and  had  set  my  father's  risible  propensities 
in  full  action. 

Never  was  poor  mortal  so  thoroughly  crestfallen  as  myself. 
The  whole  delusion  was  at  an  end.  I  drew  off  silently  from  the 
house,  shrinking  smaller  and  smaller  at  every  fresh  peal  of 
laughter ;  and  wandering  about  until  the  family  had  retired, 
stole  quietly  to  my  bed.  Scarce  any  sleep,  however,  visited  my 
eyes  that  night !  I  lay  overwhelmed  with  mortification,  and 
meditating  how  I  might  meet  the  family  in  the  morning.  The 


MOUNT  JOY.  17 

idea  of  ridicule  was  always  intolerable  to  me  ;  but  to  endure  it 
on  a  subject  by  which  my  feelings  had  been  so  much  excited, 
seemed  worse  than  death.  I  almost  determined,  at  one  time,  to 
get  up,  saddle  my  horse,  and  ride  off,  I  knew  not  whither. 

At  length  I  came  to  a  resolution.  Before  going  down  to  break- 
fast, I  sent  for  Sophy,  and  employed  her  as  ambassador  to  treat 
formally  in  the  matter.  I  insisted  that  the  subject  should  be 
buried  in  oblivion  ;  otherwise  I  would  not  show  my  face  at  table. 
It  was  readily  agreed  to ;  for  not  one  of  the  family  would  have 
given  me  pain  for  the  world.  They  faithfully  kept  their  promise. 
Not  a  word  was  said  of  the  matter ;  but  there  were  wry  faces, 
and  suppressed  titters,  that  went  to  my  soul ;  and  whenever  my 
father  looked  me  in  the  face,  it  was  with  such  a  tragic-comical 
leer  —  such  an  attempt  to  pull  down  a  serious  brow  upon  a 
whimsical  mouth  —  that  I  had  a  thousand  times  rather  he  had 
laughed  outright. 


For  a  day  or  two  after  the  mortifying  occurrence  just  related, 
I  kept  as  much  as  possible  out  of  the  way  of  the  family,  and 
wandered  about  the  fields  and  woods  by  myself.  I  was  sadly 
out  of  tune ;  my  feelings  were  all  jarred  and  unstrung.  The 
birds  sang  from  every  grove,  but  I  took  no  pleasure  in  their 
melody ;  and  the  flowers  of  the  field  bloomed  unheeded  around 
me.  To  be  crossed  in  love,  is  bad  enough ;  but  then  one  can 
fly  to  poetry  for  relief,  and  turn  one's  woes  to  account  in  soul- 
subduing  stanzas.  But  to  have  one's  whole  passion,  object  and 
all,  annihilated,  dispelled,  proved  to  be  such  stuff  as  dreams  are 
made  of  —  or,  worse  than  all,  to  be  turned  into  a  proverb  and  a 
jest  —  what  consolation  is  there  in  such  a  case  ? 

I  avoided  the  fatal  brook  where  I  had  seen  the  footstep.  My 
favorite  resort  was  now  the  banks  of  the  Hudson,  where  I  sat 
upon  the  rocks  and  mused  upon  the  current  that  dimpled  by,  or 
the  waves  that  laved  the  shore  ;  or  watched  the  bright  mutations 
of  the  clouds,  and  the  shifting  lights  and  shadows  of  the  distant 
mountain.  By  degrees  a  returning  serenity  stole  over  my  feel- 
ings ;  and  a  sigh  now  and  then,  gentle  and  easy,  and  unattended 
by  pain,  showed  that  my  heart  was  recovering  its  susceptibility. 

As  I  was  sitting  in  this  musing  mood  my  eye  became  gradually 
fixed  upon  an  object  that  was  borne  along  by  the'tide.  It  proved 
to  be  a  little  pinnace,  beautifully  modelled,  and  gayly  painted 
and  decorated.  It  was  an  unusual  sight  in  this  neighborhood, 
which  was  rather  lonely ;  indeed,  it  was  rare  to  see  any  pleas- 
ure-barks in  this  part  of  the  river.  As  it  drew  nearer,  I  per- 


18  THE  CRAYON  PAPERS. 

ceived  that  there  was  no  one  on  board  ;  it  had  apparently  drifted 
from  its  anchorage.  There  was  not  a  breath  of  air ;  the  little 
bark  came  floating  along  on  the  glassy  stream,  wheeling  about 
with  the  eddies.  At  length  it  ran  aground,  almost  at  the  foot 
of  the  rock  on  which  I  was  seated.  I  descended  to  the  margin 
of  the  river,  and  drawing  the  bark  to  shore,  admired  its  light 
and  elegant  proportions  and  the  taste  with  which  it  was  fitted 
up.  The  benches  were  covered  with  cushions,  and  its  long 
streamer  was  of  silk.  On  one  of  the  cushions  lay  a  lady's  glove, 
of  delicate  size  and  shape,  with  beautifully  tapered  fingers.  I 
instantly  seized  it  and  thrust  it  in  my  bosom  ;  it  seemed  a  match 
for  the  fairy  footstep  that  had  so  fascinated  me. 

In  a  moment  all  the  romance  of  my  bosom  was  again  in  a 
glow.  Here  was  one  of  the  very  incidents  of  fairy  tale  ;  a  bark 
sent  by  some  invisible  power,  some  good  genius,  or  benevolent 
fairy,  to  waft  me  to  some  delectable  adventure.  I  recollected 
something  of  an  enchanted  bark,  drawn  by  white  swans,  that 
conveyed  a  knight  down  the  current  of  the  Rhine,  on  some 
enterprise  connected  with  love  and  beauty.  The  glove,  too, 
showed  that  there  was  a  lady  fair  concerned  in  the  present 
adventure.  It  might  be  a  gauntlet  of  defiance,  to  dare  me  to 
the  enterprise. 

In  the  spirit  of  romance  and  the  whim  of  the  moment,  I 
sprang  on  board,  hoisted  the  light  sail,  and  pushed  from  shore. 
As  if  breathed  by  some  presiding  power,  a  light  breeze  at  that 
moment  sprang  up,  swelled  out  the  sail,  and  dallied  with  the 
silken  streamer.  For  a  time  I  glided  along  under  steep  umbra- 
geous banks,  or  across  deep  sequestered  bays  ;  and  then  stood 
out  over  a  wide  expansion  of  the  river  toward  a  high  rocky 
promontory.  It  was  a  lovely  evening ;  the  sun  was  setting  in 
a  congregation  of  clouds  that  threw  the  whole  heavens  in  a  glow, 
and  were  reflected  in  the  river.  I  delighted  myself  with  all 
kinds  of  fantastic  fancies,  as  to  what  enchanted  island,  or  mystic 
bower,  or  necromantic  palace,  I  was  to  be  conveyed  by  the 
fairy  bark. 

In  the  revel  of  my  fancy  I  had  not  noticed  that  the  gorgeous 
congregation  of  clouds  which  had  so  much  delighted  me  was  in 
fact  a  gathering  thunder-gust.  I  perceived  the  truth  too  late. 
The  clouds  came  hurrying  on,  darkening  as  they  advanced. 
The  whole  face  of  nature  was  suddenly  changed,  and  assumed 
that  baleful  and  livid  tint  predictive  of  a  storm.  I  tried  to 
gain  the  shore,  but  before  I  could  reach  it  a  blast  of  wind  struck 
the  water  and  lashed  it  at  once  into  foam.  The  next  moment  it 
overtook  the  boat.  Alas  !  I  was  nothing  of  a  sailor ;  and  my 


MOUNT  JOY.  19 

protecting  fairy  forsook  me  in  the  moment  of  peril.  I  endeav- 
ored to  lower  the  sail ;  but  in  so  doing  I  had  to  quit  the  helm  ; 
the  bark  was  overturned  in  a  instant,  and  I  was  thrown  into  the 
water.  I  endeavored  to  cling  to  the  wreck,  but  missed  my  hold  ; 
being  a  poor  swimmer,  I  soon  found  myself  sinking,  but  grasped 
a  light  oar  that  was  floating  by  me.  It  was  not  sufficient  for 
my  support ;  I  again  sank  beneath  the  surface ;  there  was  a 
rushing  and  bubbling  sound  in  my  ears,  and  all  sense  forsook 
me. 


How  long  I  remained  insensible,  I  know  not.  I  had  a  con- 
fused notion  of  being  moved  and  tossed  about,  and  of  hearing- 
strange  beings  and  strange  voices  around  me  ;  but  all  was  like 
a  hideous  dream.  When  I  at  length  recovered  full  conscious- 
ness and  perception,  I  found  myself  in  bed  in  a  spacious  cham- 
ber, furnished  with  more  taste  than  I  had  been  accustomed  to. 
The  bright  rays  of  a  morning  sun  were  intercepted  by  curtains  of 
a  delicate  rose  color,  that  gave  a  soft,  voluptuous  tinge  to  every 
object.  Not  far  from  my  bed,  on  a  classic  tripod,  was  a  basket 
of  beautiful  exotic  flowers,  breathing  the  sweetest  fragrance. 

"  Where  am  I?    How  came  I  here?  " 

I  tasked  my  mind  to  catch  at  some  previous  event,  from 
which  I  might  trace  up  the  thread  of  existence  to  the  present 
moment.  By  degrees  I  called  to  mind  the  fairy  pinnace,  my 
daring  embarkation,  my  adventurous  voyage,  and  my  disas- 
trous shipwreck.  Beyond  that,  all  was  chaos.  How  came  I 
here  ?  What  unknown  region  had  I  landed  upon  ?  The  people 
that  inhabited  it  must  be  gentle  and  amiable,  and  of  elegant 
tastes,  for  they  loved  downy  beds,  fragrant  flowers,  and  rose- 
colored  curtains. 

While  I  lay  thus  musing,  the  tones  of  a  harp  reached  my  ear. 
Presently  they  were  accompanied  by  a  female  voice.  It  came 
from  the  room  below ;  but  in  the  profound  stillness  of  my 
chamber  not  a  modulation  was  lost.  My  sisters  were  all  con- 
sidered good  musicians,  and  sang  very  tolerably ;  but  I  had 
never  heard  a  voice  like  this.  There  was  no  attempt  at  diffi- 
cult execution,  or  striking  effect ;  but  there  were  exquisite 
inflections,  and  tender  turns,  which  art  could  not  reach. 
Nothing  but  feeling  and  sentiment  could  produce  them.  It 
was  soul  breathed  forth  in  sound.  I  was  always  alive  to  the 
influence  of  music ;  indeed,  I  was  susceptible  of  voluptuous 
influences  of  every  kind  —  sounds,  colors,  shapes,  and  fragrant 
odors.  I  was  the  very  slave  of  sensation. 


20  THE  CRAYON   PAPERS. 

I  lay  mute  and  breathless,  and  drank  in  every  note  of  this 
siren  strain.  It  thrilled  through  my  whole  frame,  and  tilled 
my  soul  with  melody  and  love.  I  pictured  to  myself,  with 
curious  logic,  the  form  of  the  unseen